Big news in the myeloma world last week. Onyx, the company that developed and manufactures the newly FDA approved proteasome inhibitor, Kyprolis (carfilzomib), was purchased by Amgen for a whopping 9.7 billion dollars.
If you would like details, I ran a press release about it on our sister site, MyelomaNews.com, October 1st:
I wrote several posts about the proposed sale back in August:
I was never able to decipher what impact–if any–the sale might have on myeloma patients. What was clear is a sale or merger was inevitable; inside sources hinted at a corporate business plan designed to make Onyx a desirable takeover candidate over three years ago.
That’s the modern drug company model. Discover an anti-cancer mechanism, then sell it to the highest bidder. Putting together financing for one or two key clinical trials in order to get the ball rolling is one thing. Funding a half dozen ongoing trials that can take years another.
Amgen’s established competitor, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, recently announced a new Patient Support Program for those using Velcade. Although it’s effectiveness may be waning for me as we speak, I signed-up for the program a few weeks back.
Here’s a link to information the program sent me yesterday:
Welcome to the VELCADE® (bortezomib) Patient Support Program
The update includes important safety information that any patient using Velcade may want to reveiw. Not the most exciting stuff, but cudos to Millennium for reaching out to us in a new and different way.
Sub-q Velcade has been a real difference maker. While my peripheral neuropathy (PN) slowly progresses as a result of my ongoing treatment, it is a lot easier for me to deal with than when I was getting Velcade by IV. I had started discussions with my doctor about switching to another drug just before the FDA approved sub-q administration.
While improvement isn’t as dramatic for everyone, it worked for me, allowing Dr. Alsina to bank Kyprolis to try another day.
And did you know that there are at least four other proteasome inhibitors in the pipeline? Both Amgen and Millennium have oral versions that could be FDA approved within the next couple of years. Two others, marizomib and oprozomib, are also on the horizon.
That’s good. But do we really need a half dozen different myeloma drugs in the same class? How about thinking outside the box and developing new classes of myeloma drugs? Copycat research may make financial sense–sticking with what’s working–but it isn’t getting researchers any closer to a cure.
Still, options are good, right? Maybe Millennium’s ixazomib (MLN9708) will work, even if Velcade won’t. This seems to be the case for between 20-30% of patients that become refractory (resistant) to Velcade.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat