Bay Area's OncoMed Tanks Some More as GlaxoSmithKline Walks Away From R&D Pact

Published: Jul 12, 2017

Bay Area's OncoMed Tanks Some More as GlaxoSmithKline Walks Away from R&D Pact July 11, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – The hits keep coming for Bay Area-based OncoMed . On Monday, the company announced GlaxoSmithKline was terminating its nearly 10-year-old research and development agreement. The company’s shares fell about 2 percent on the news.

In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, OncoMed said GSK was terminating the agreement because it opted to not exercise its option for tarextumab (anti-Notch2/3, OMP-59R5), the last program under the agreement forged Dec. 7, 2007. There are no early termination penalties, according to the federal form. The termination agreement will become effective 120 days following the July 7 date on the letter GSK sent OncoMed.

GSK’s announcement follows an April 2017 announcement that tarextumab failed in a mid-stage trial. Tarextumab was being studied in combination with etoposide and a chemotherapy drug to treat patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. In April, OncoMed said the trial showed results that were “undifferentiated from those of chemotherapy plus placebo.”

That wasn’t the only bad news for OncoMed in April. Bayer Pharma announced that it opted to terminate its option to license two OncoMed drugs, vantictumab and ipafricept, both first-in-class Wnt pathway inhibitors.

In April, OncoMed slashed half its workforce in an effort to focus its finances on three clinical-stage programs. The terminations left the company with 54 employees. With another failed trial, pink slips may be handed out again at the beleaguered company.

Later in May, OncoMed saw more trouble when its Phase II front-line cancer drug demcizumab failed to meet its efficacy endpoints when compared to placebo in treating patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. OncoMed and Celgene had partnered for this trial. OncoMed said the cancer drug actually performed worse than placebo.

Following OncoMed’s announcement this morning, the company said it was discontinuing the dosing of all patients on the demcizumab trials, including the demcizumab plus Keytruda Phase Ib study it was conducting with Merck. In April, demcizumab failed to meet endpoints in a phase II trial with pancreatic cancer.

While GSK terminated its agreement, the London-based company still owns 2,607,546 shares, nearly 7 percent of OncoMed’s common stock.

Shares of OncoMed are trading this morning at $3.36 per share. Shares of OncoMed have been on a steady decline for the past year. On July 11, 2016 shares of OncoMed were trading at $12.90. Since then shares have consistently declined, hitting a low of $3.21 on July 7.

As of March 31 the company said it had cash, and short-term investments totaling $156.9 million, which is estimated to be enough money to fund approximately two-years of operations.

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