Pharmaceutical billionaire’s fortune more than doubles in one day thanks to cancer drug news

5 Min Read

Talk about a stock bubble. Shares of biotech company Summit Therapeutics more than tripled on Thursday after good news about a drug candidate to treat a type of lung cancer. The 272% rise in Summit’s stock more than doubled pharmaceutical billionaire Robert (“Bob”) Duggan’s fortune to $7.5 billion per day. Forbes estimates.

“That wasn’t bad for one day’s work,” Duggan, the chairman and co-CEO of Summit Therapeutics, joked late Thursday in a conversation with Forbes. “I used to mow the lawn for 50 cents a day.” Duggan owns approximately 78% of Summit’s stock. Its co-CEO Maky Zanganeh, who owns about 5% of Summit’s stock, is now worth nearly $500 million a year. Forbes estimates.

The shares went on a tear statement issued Thursdayy by Summit that a Phase 3 trial of its drug candidate ivonescimab outperformed Merck’s blockbuster Keytruda for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. For context, Keytruda, a cancer immunotherapy drug, generated $25 billion in sales last year, reportedly making it the best-selling drug in the world. Summit Therapeutics stock closed at $10.92 per share on Thursday, up from $2.93 on Wednesday.

Zanganeh says why Summit’s stock has probably risen so much: “No one has ever beaten Ketryuda.”

In December 2022, Summit announced it would license the experimental cancer drug from Hong Kong-listed company Akeso for $500 million upfront and an additional $4.5 billion if certain regulatory or commercial milestones are met. The drug candidate is an antibody that combines the effects of cancer immunotherapy and the prevention of new blood vessel growth (anti-angiogenesis) in one molecule. The 600-patient Phase 3 trial is being conducted in China by Summit’s partner Akeso; Patients receive an infusion every three weeks.

The primary objective of the clinical trial is to measure progression-free survival in patients taking ivonescimab versus Keytruda. The statement from Summit Therapeutics – which it described as “a pre-specified interim analysis conducted by an independent Data Monitoring Committee” – said Summit’s drug candidate “demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement” compared to Keytruda, but gave no specific details. Full data on the trial will be presented at a medical conference later this year, probably in September, Zanganeh said Forbes.

Duggan’s first major success in drug development came with Pharmacyclics, a penny-stock biotech company where he became CEO in 2008. A drug in the company’s pipeline, Imbruvica, became a successful treatment for B-cell cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). a common form of leukemia in adults. Drug giant AbbVie acquired Pharmacyclics in 2015 for $21 billion, making Duggan worth $3 billion.

In 2020, Duggan bought more than 60% of the shares of Nasdaq-listed Summit Therapeutics for $63 million and became CEO. The company, founded in 2003, had not generated much revenue. When Forbes contacted Duggan in the fall of 2020, betting on Summit’s success with a new antibiotic for the common but deadly infection Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). Although the drug showed some promise when tested against existing antibiotics, Duggan ultimately decided he did not want to spend another $100 million on another trial. “It didn’t make sense for me to do that,” he explains. “Let’s focus on oncology. It will be much more satisfying for patients than for us to compete with generic antibiotics.”

Given that the news of the ivonescimab trial comes from an interim analysis, there is no guarantee that the drug candidate will continue to outperform Merck’s blockbuster Keytruda. While the outlook seems promising, shareholders – and patients – will have to wait for more data.

See also  A greater reduction in mortality has been observed with bariatric surgery than with GLP-1 RAs
Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *