PD-1 Antibody Targeting Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor
Credit: Marcin Klapczynski/Gatty Images

Having recently finalized its blockbuster acquisition of antibody drug conjugate (ADC) pioneer Seagen, Pfizer is tidying up its oncology house and making a conspicuous shift towards more biologics. The oncology market  is expected to reach $500B by 2030, and Pfizer wants a big piece of it. Especially as the U.S. is making moves to restrict prices in some classes of drugs.

Pfizer says it expects biologics to contribute approximately 65% of oncology revenues, compared to approximately 6% in 2023. “We’ve been a growing presence in oncology for 20 years,” said Chris Boshoff, Pfizer’s chief oncology officer and executive vice president, during an investor presentation. “Our cancer drugs reached just over 2 million patients last year. We aim to double that number by 2030.”

This new Pfizer initiative will be fueled partly by steady growth in cancer prevalence and incidence. Approximately two million cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. this year, 20 million cancer cases are  expected worldwide in 2022, and 10 million died of cancer globally in 2022.

‘We have a clear strategy focused on three core scientific modalities and four main types of cancer, where we have the deep expertise and knowledge to advance our leadership. With many significant catalysts expected through the first half of 2025 and beyond, our Oncology organization is well-positioned to be a critical driver of potential long-term sustainable sales and profit growth for Pfizer through the end of the decade,” said Boshoff.

The three core modalities are: small molecules, ADCs, and bispecific antibodies, including other immuno-oncology biologics. In particular, Pfizer is progressing a next-generation ADC platform aimed at novel targets and improved, differentiated payloads, as well as investigational advanced biologics and novel combinations of medicines.

ADCs combine the specificity of monoclonal antibodies with cytotoxic drugs, aimed at delivering highly targeted treatment. The field has momentum a lot of momentum. Pfizer acquired Seagen for $43B in March of 2023—a move that would double the big pharma’s early-stage oncology clinical pipeline. Also in December of 2023, BMS signed an $8.4 billion ADC deal with SystImmune and in October Merck inked a $4 billion deal with Daiichi.

The four main cancer types the company aims to expand in are: breast cancer, including three main hormonal subtypes; genitourinary cancer, including prostate and urothelial cancers; hematology-oncology, including multiple myeloma and lymphomas, such as Hodgkin’s disease; and thoracic cancers, which includes lung and head and neck cancers.

Pfizer outlined several key short-term goals:

  • Four recent priority indication launches, including Padcev (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) in combination with Keytruda (pembrolizuma in locally advanced / metastatic urothelial cancer; Xtandi (enzalutamide) in nonmetastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer at high-risk for metastasis; Talzenna (talazoparib) in combination with Xtandi in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC); and Elrexfio (elranatamab-bcmm) for adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four prior lines of therapy.
  • Seven anticipated Phase III readouts, including results for vepdegestrant in second-line estrogen receptor positive metastatic breast cancer, Braftovi (encorafenib) in first-line BRAF+ metastatic colorectal cancer, sasanlimab in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, and Elrexfio in double-class exposed relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
  • Six anticipated Phase III study starts, including three new trials recently initiated for: CDK4/6 inhibitor atirmociclib in second-line hormone receptor positive metastatic breast cancer, sigvotatug vedotin (B6A; integrin beta-6 (IB6)-directed ADC) in second/third-line non-small cell lung cancer, and Elrexfio in patients with multiple myeloma after their cancer progresses on anti-CD38 treatment.
  • First-in-patient study starts for eight or more new molecular entities.
Also of Interest