Daiichi cuts 6 medicines in last quarter, including Pieris candidate

Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo has been wielding the ax over the past quarter to half a dozen pipeline medications across cancer, diabetes and CV disease.

In its financials posted this morning, Daiichi listed the six drugs, some of which we knew and others we didn’t, that didn’t make the grade.  

They are phase 3 MET inhibitor tivantinib/ARQ 197 in liver cancer, which didn’t cut it in testing; phase 2 GPR119 agonist DS-8500 in diabetes, also cut after poor results; and anti-PCSK9 Anticalin-Albumod DS-9001 in a phase 1 dyslipidemia test, again due to poor data readouts.

There were also three phase 1 cuts for solid tumors: DS-8895, an anti-EPHA2 antibody; DS-5573, an anti-B7-H3 antibody; and U3-1784, an anti-FGFR4 antibody. All of these were axed because Daiichi “decided to discontinue the development considering the portfolio.”

This is bad news for Pieris Pharmaceuticals (although it will be buoyed by last week’s $2 billion pact with AstraZeneca), as it was partnered with Daiichi on one of the chopped meds, namely DS-9001.

Last fall, Daiichi and drug partner Plexxikon also stopped taking on new patients in a late-stage trial of their rare cancer candidate on the advice of the Data Monitoring Committee after safety concerns. In January it also decided to shutter its 170-person Indian R&D site.

But in parallel to the internal cuts, Daiichi has penned a string of oncology deals designed to give it a pipeline of candidates that can increase its success rate in the clinic. The most recent and high profile of these agreements is the deal with Kite Pharma, which gave Daiichi the rights to CAR-T drug KTE-C19 (axi-cel) in Japan. KTE-C19 is now spearheading an immuno-oncology pipeline that Daiichi is hoping to flesh out through collaborations with companies including AgonOx and Zymeworks.