Aveo on a hiring spree as it preps for the launch of tivozanib

Early this year, when Aveo Pharmaceuticals published the data from its head-to-head matchup between its experimental kidney cancer drug tivozanib and industry standard Nexavar, analysts were so unimpressed by Aveo's ($AVEO) margin of victory on disease progression that the company's shares took a beating. But the Cambridge, MA-based biotech has been consistently upbeat about its market potential in the lead-up to its regulatory filing, and Aveo is going full steam ahead on its expansion plans.

The fast-growing developer tells The Boston Globe that it plans to hire 120 new staffers this year in preparation for the likely upcoming launch of tivozanib, which delivered a median PFS rate of 11.9 months compared with Nexavar's 9.1 month rate in a late-stage study. Tuan Ha-Ngoc, president and chief executive officer of Aveo, also pronounced himself "delighted with the favorable safety profile observed in TIVO-1."

Despite the mixed reception, tivozanib remains one of the most closely watched late-stage cancer drugs in the industry. Its success at the FDA would mark a key turning point for Aveo, as it transforms itself from a developer into a more mature company with a drug to sell.

Aveo in-licensed tivozanib from Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin and partnered on the program with Astellas Pharma. Now it plans to file for an approval in the third quarter, setting up the prospects of a likely launch next year. At that point Aveo can find out just how well tivozanib can do against the market competition.

- here's the story from The Boston Globe