J&J trims the edges of its pipeline with the company mum on timing of looming readouts

Johnson & Johnson is continuing to trim the edges of its pipeline, particularly in oncology, as it gears up for a new year centered on a handful of pivotal readouts. 

The company appeared to cut two phase 1 assets aimed at solid tumors and prostate cancer, respectively, as it presented fourth-quarter earnings results. A spokesperson for the company said that while the two trials are ongoing, the two meds "are not prioritized assets in our development portfolio." The two culls (PDF) come after the company shed a blood cancer prospect in the third quarter of last year.

The solid-tumor-targeting bispecific, JNJ-6358, was assessed in patients with renal cell carcinoma and ovarian cancer, among others. Recruitment wrapped up in December, with the company hoping to enroll nearly 40 patients, according to the clinical trial record. The trial was recruiting out of Israel and Spain.

The other culled project, JNJ-8902, focused specifically on prostate cancer, with a phase 1 study looking to enroll more than twice as many patients as the JNJ-6358 trial. Recruitment wrapped up in September, and few updates have been posted since, except a pushback of the expected completion date from January 2023 to the end of June 2023. The trial was similarly not recruiting out of the U.S. but did include trial sites in Canada in addition to Israel and Spain. 

The trims come as Johnson & Johnson’s oncology ambitions for the new year center on two pivotal readouts. The first is an expansion of its CAR-T cell therapy into earlier lines of treatment for patients with multiple myeloma. The company said on its earnings call that because the CARTITUDE-4 trial is event-driven, it wouldn’t project a readout. 

The company is also banking on a readout of Erleada in high-risk prostate cancer patients, an indication it says Wall Street is undervaluing as the large pharma climbs toward $60 billion in pharmaceutical revenue by 2025. 

Outside of cancer, the company is anticipating launching a phase 3 trial early this year for its BMS-partnered factor XI inhibitor, milvexian. But readouts of immunology-focused nipocalimab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn aren’t around the corner. 

“It will be towards the later part of the year, that's when you can expect those data to come up,” said Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato. 

Editor's note: This story was corrected to reflect that new data is not expected for milvexian this year, rather the company plans to launch a phase 3 study. The story was also updated with a response from a J&J spokesperson.