Incyte Falls on Jakafi Solid-Tumor Setback

Updated from 8:48 with Thursday stock price.

Incyte (INCY) is halting all clinical trials intended to expand the use of its blood cancer drug Jakafi into solid tumors due to an insufficient level of efficacy, the company said Thursday.

The company reported better-than-expected Jakafi U.S. sales of $182 million in the fourth quarter and in-line guidance for 2016. That news, however, was overshadowed by the stoppage of Jakafi solid tumor clinical trials -- an important element in the company's future growth plans.

Incyte shares fell 21% to $57 at the Thursday market open. Coming into Thursday, Incyte stock was already down 33% year to date on increased skepticism about Jakafi's solid-tumor potential and the ongoing biotech bear market.

Two Jakafi clinical trial failures compelled Incyte to shelve the drug's expansion into solid tumor indications. An interim look at a phase III study involving pancreatic cancer patients showed Jakafi wasn't demonstrating sufficient benefit to warrant continuation, Incyte said Thursday.

Earlier, Incyte was forced stop a study of Jakafi in colon cancer because an interim look found the drug wasn't working.

Ongoing clinical trials of Jakafi in pancreatic, colon, breast and lung cancers are now being discontinued, Incyte said.

Jakafi was first approved in 2011 to treat myelofibrosis, a cancer of the bone marrow. Later, the drug secured an expanded approval to treat polycythemia vera, another type of bone marrow disease. Incyte sells Jakafi in the U.S. and receives royalties on sales overseas from Novartis (NVS) .

Full-year 2015 Jakafi sales in the U.S. grew 68% to $601 million. For 2016, Incyte is forecasting U.S. Jakafi sales to reach $800 million to $815 million.

In solid tumors, Incyte continues to develop an experimental cancer immunotherapy drug, epacadostat, in combination with popular checkpoint inhibitors. The importance of the company's epacadostat clinical program grows now that Jakafi's solid-tumor ambitions have been shelved.

 

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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