A major contributor to the strength in the shares of Ligand Pharma LGND over the past several quarters has been attributable to their single-digit royalty on sales on the multiple myeloma drug KYPROLIS (carfilzomib) from partner Onyx Pharmaceuticals ONXX. This post captures highlights and discussion regarding this drug from the recent ONXX earnings conference call.
In this post I will continue to highlight AACR abstracts relevant to the small-cap biotech companies that covered here at BiotechDueDiligence and/or may be of interest to readers.
Preview Part 1 (SNTA, ASTX, NVS, INFI)
Preview Part 2
Preview Part 3 (ARRY, ASTX)
Preview Part 4 (ASTX, ARQL, BPAX)
Preview Part 5 (TKMR, EXEL, PCYC, IMMU, VRTX)
With 70 partnered development programs, it is a chore to keep tabs on the progress at Ligand Pharma LGND. Continue reading below for a few updates from partner companies disclosed on 3q-2012 earnings conference calls.
Ligand Pharma $LGND has built a business around a large portfolio of partnerships in which other biotech and pharma companies develop drugs at no cost to LGND. The upside to shareholders from any one deal is lower, but the many "shots on goal" and growing royalties from PROMACTA and KYPROLIS offer a lower risk investment opportunity compared to many biotechs.
Continue reading below for a round-up of notes on LGND-partnered programs from a number of partners from 2q-2012 earnings conference calls.
Ligand and GlaxoSmithKilne $GSK will present early stage data for the use of PROMACTA (eltrombopag) in chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia at ASCO 2012 in June. Also, partner Merck will present phase 2 melanoma data for SCH727965. Finally, there will be several presentations from Onyx Pharma $ONXX related to carfilzomib. Abstracts will be released May 16th so stay tuned.
First quarter 2012 Partner Updates:
Merck $MRK and Baxter $BAX have partnered programs with LGND that were not discussed on their respective 1q-2012 earnings calls.
Partner Onyx Pharma $ONXX also has the multiple myeloma drug (which utilizes Ligand Captisol formulation technology) up for a FDA panel review and PDUFA date this summer. I have not seen a 1q-2012 conference call transcript or listened to the webcast, but I don't think there have been any material updates while we wait for those fey FDA events.
I speculate that evacetrapib is the undisclosed Eli Lilly $LLY programs slated to enter phase 3 in 2012 that utilizes LGND Captisol technology. As this drug is a member of the troubled CETP inhibitor class, I will carefully monitor to see if this phase 3 program actually begins (and to verify if this is indeed the program partnered with Ligand). With that caveat, here are the relevant excerpts from the conference call:
"We anticipate beginning Phase III trial for evacetrapib, our CETP inhibitor"
Q: "anything to update us on the timing and design of the evacetrapib studies?"
A: "As you know, we communicated our very promising data then in the fall and we are doing extensive planning them for the Phase III trial including interaction with regulators, which we are close to completing. We have also been preparing the CMC material for the trial. So we feel very good about the options we have to start the trial before the end of this year as we have communicated."