(Reuters) – Novocure Ltd’s experimental device to treat a type of lung cancer helped in extending overall survival among patients in a late-stage study, but concerns around its commercial success sent the medical device maker’s shares down more than 34% on Tuesday.
The device, used with certain chemotherapies and immunotherapies, helps in creating electric fields that disrupt cancer cell growth.
Data from the study shows that the device, along with a class of immunotherapies know as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI), extended survival by about eight months, compared to patients treated with ICI alone.
However, only a small group of patients enrolled in the study were previously treated with ICI such as Merck’s Keytruda in first line setting, while a majority of the patients were given the ICI as second-line treatment in the study.
“Given that a majority of patients did not receive prior ICI in the first line setting, we are interested to see whether this makes a difference for the potential label,” said H.C. Wainwright & Co analyst Emily Bodnar, referring to the drugs’ product information for patients.
Some analysts also said that the device may not do well commercially at least in the United States, where checkpoint inhibitors are currently the standard of care.
The debate around the commercial use of the device will continue and investors will question whether there is room for the treatment in a second line setting given overwhelming use of immunotherapies as a first line of treatment in the United States, said Jefferies analyst Michael Yee.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and NSCLC accounts for about 85% of all lung cancers, the company said.
Novocure plans to submit marketing application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the second half of 2023 based on the data.
Novocure’s shares fell 34.2% to a more than three-year low of $54.26.
(Reporting by Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel)
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