In the Weeks Since ASCO 2023, We Asked Practicing Oncologists About the Data

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its 2023 annual meeting June 2 – 6 in Chicago. In the weeks since, the studies disseminated at the event have circulated within the medical community, paving the way for Stream by AlphaSense to publish reactions from 12 U.S. physicians to key ASCO 2023 presentations.

Notably, these are practicing physicians who did not participate in any of the studies presented at the conference, so this is a great boots-on-the-ground read on some of the most important oncology data presented this year. In addition, this note is an excellent supplement to the trove of ASCO-related sell-side reports and company announcements available in the Stream by AlphaSense platform.

You’ll find a snippet of these transcripts below but you gain full access to the Stream expert transcript library by starting your free trial.

Multiple Solid Cancer Types

Two oncologists interviewed for Stream’s expert transcript library were enthusiastic about AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu presentation at ASCO 2023, saying the data support Enhertu use across multiple solid cancer types (especially gynecologic cancers) and bolstered Enhertu’s position as a leading antibody drug conjugate. 

Primary Ticker: Daiichi Sankyo (DSKYF) 

Other Companies Mentioned: AstraZeneca PLC (AZN), Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK), Roche Holding AG (RHHBY)

“In this basket trial, they [included] women with cervix, endometrial, and ovarian cancer. To see that there was an overall response rate in all of those patient populations… is just amazing.” Gynecologic oncologist at Kaiser Permanente 

Primary Ticker: AZN

Other Companies Mentioned: DSKYF

“There have been many drug antibody conjugates that we’ve seen over the years. I think [Enhertu] might just be the best one to come about. I think it’s teaching us that all drug antibody conjugates are not created the same… This data is very exciting.”Hematologist oncologist at ACOHA 

Ovarian Cancer 

Two oncologists had strongly favorable reactions to the phase-3 MIRASOL trial data on Immunogen‘s Elahere antibody drug conjugate for the treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer with high folate receptor alpha expressions. One of these oncologists now expects Elahere to become the standard of care for applicable patients at their practice, and the other said it already has. 

Primary Ticker: Immunogen Inc. (IMGN)

Other Companies Mentioned: RHHBY

“[Elahere showed] a good 30%, 35%, 40% reduction in progression to death. For [platinum-resistant ovarian cancer], that’s pretty much unheard of. In the last 20 years, we haven’t had any drug that actually has done anything in platinum-resistant [patients]… I have moved Elahere to my first drug of choice [for applicable patients].” Gynecologic oncologist at Southern California Permanente Medical Group

Primary Ticker: IMGN

Other Companies Mentioned: RHHBY, Sutro Biopharma Inc. (STRO)

“Most drugs in this space are going to have response rates somewhere between 10%-15%… The fact that MIRASOL showed a response rate… that was over 40% is unprecedented for any single therapy in the platinum-resistant queue. Obviously, we’re very excited about this.” – Hospital-based gynecologic oncologist 

Multiple Myeloma 

A hematologist oncologist was impressed with Johnson & Johnson and Legend Biotech’s ASCO presentation on Carvykti CAR T-cell therapy, saying study data support using Carvykti earlier in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma. Nevertheless, this physician would like to see the data confirmed in a longer study period and has questions about how Carvykti compares to competing therapies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abecma.  

Primary Ticker: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) 

Other Companies Mentioned: Legend Biotech Corporation (LEGN), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY)

[The Carvykti study] is very promising. I think it changes the treatment paradigm because it means we should not wait until a fourth line or later to administer CAR T [therapy]… But I think we still have issues to be resolved, like how [Carvykti] compares to stem cell transplant, what [are] the long-term safety issues and how [durable is] the survival data?… Another thing is, what is the difference between Carvykti, Abecma and… Tecvayli?”Hematologist oncologist at New York-Presbyterian

Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)

ASCO data on Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Reblozyl left two hematologist oncologists with differing opinions about whether to use Reblozyl as a first-line treatment for certain low-risk MDS patients instead of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs), which are widely used in the first line and are available in biologic form.  

Primary Ticker: BMY

Other Companies Mentioned: Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Geron Corporation (GERN)

“I like the data… [They provide] rationale to move [Reblozyl] to the first line. There’s a pretty safe margin with a durable response in a relatively short period of time. The adverse event is very acceptable… and [Reblozyl may be] less likely to have an off-target effect… In terms of pricing, these are sensitive issues. Sometimes the biologic could be cheaper, [but]… some of them are even more expensive than [the] patent [product].”  Hematologist oncologist at MetroHealth System, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Primary Ticker: BMY

Other Companies Mentioned: AMGN, GERN

“Despite the recent [Reblozyl] evidence from ASCO for low-risk MDS… [ESAs] remain my frontline therapy of choice… You’ve got to remember, ESAs, they’re all biosimilars, [have] absolutely no side effects, and they have the convenient administration of a [subcutaneous] shot once every three weeks… Why would I choose a not-as-well-tolerated therapy that has some need for dose adjustments when I have a readily available biosimilar product?”Hematologist oncologist at First Health of the Carolinas Cancer Center

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)

Bicara Therapeutics and PDS Biotechnology presented studies at ASCO in which their respective HNSCC therapies were paired with Merck’s Keytruda immunotherapy to evaluate how metastatic patients treated with these combinations compared to patients treated with Keytruda alone. 

One medical oncologist was enthusiastic about results from both studies, saying the data support using the Bicara-Keytruda combination in metastatic HNSCC patients who are negative for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and using the PDS-Keytruda combination in a subset of HPV-positive patients. 

Primary Ticker: PDS Biotechnology Corporation (PDSB) 

Other Companies Mentioned: Bicara Therapeutics (private), BMY, Eli Lilly (LLY)

“You can’t beat these responses [for the Bicara-Keytruda combination]… I’m very excited… [For PCB-Keytruda], responses are, again, really good here… Once both drugs are made available, we may start using the Bicara for non-HPV patients and the PDS for HPV-positive patients. Of course, we need to wait for the data to mature and all that, but just at a high level, that’s what it looks like.”Medical oncologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Two medical oncologists expressed reservations about NovoCure’s ASCO presentation on the use of its Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) technology for platinum-resistant, metastatic NSCLC. This is in contrast to NovoCure’s press release (found here in the AlphaSense platform), which described the study results as “highly encouraging.” 

 TTFields create electric fields that target cancer cells via skin patches, and the oncologists questioned whether the benefits of the TTFields device justified the requirement that it be worn at least 18 hours per day. Meanwhile, both oncologists said awareness of TTFields technology is relatively low even though it has been approved for glioblastoma brain tumors since 2011. 

Primary Ticker: NovoCure Limited (NVCR)

Other companies mentioned: Guardant Health (GH), MRK, RHHBY

“I’m treating maybe… 20 [glioblastoma] patients, but not more than five chose to use [NovoCure]; the main reason is the inconvenience. They have to wear it for… more than 18 hours a day. [With the NovoCure NSCLC data], we do see some survival benefit, but [as with glioblastoma], it’s just three months or so. A lot of patients with Stage IV lung cancer… know it’s not curable, so they want quality of life.” Medical oncologist at the Arizona Center for Cancer Care

Primary Ticker: NVCR

Other companies mentioned: Becton Dickinson & Co. (BDX), MRK

“The survival [benefit with NovoCure] is about three to four months… Do I think it’s worth it? I think that’s a patient’s decision.” Medical oncologist in private practice 

Meanwhile, another oncologist was unconvinced by ASCO data presented by Gilead Sciences and Arcus Biosciences on the use of anti-TIGITtherapy domvanalimab in combination with anti-PD1 therapy zimberelimab in first-line patients with metastatic NSCLC. Specifically, the oncologist said the data were unlikely to compel physicians to choose the domvanalimab/zimberelimab combination over established anti-PD1 monotherapies such as Merck’s Keytruda.  

Primary Ticker: Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)

Other companies mentioned: Arcus Biosciences Inc. (RCUS), AZN, BMY, MRK, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN), RHHBY

“It will be very difficult to use the [domvanalimab/zimberelimab] doublet if you are getting the same responses with… Keytruda, which in the near future may also become even more convenient with a subcutaneous formulation. It will be a… difficult sell unless we have some more information.”  – Oncologist at UH Seidman Cancer Center at Parma Hospital

Urothelial Carcinoma (Bladder Cancer)

A urologist expressed strong enthusiasm for Johnson & Johnson’s ASCO presentation on Balversa, saying the data showed Balversa kept certain patients with metastatic urothelial carcinoma alive longer than chemotherapy. 

The study was aimed at patients who have fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) gene mutations and who had not responded to immunotherapy, which is a population with an unmet need according to the urologist.

Primary Ticker: JNJ

Other Companies Mentioned: Astellas Pharma Inc. (4503.JP), MRK, Pfizer Inc. (PFE)

“What’s captivating about Balversa is that there’s going to be a subtype of tumors that are just not going to respond to the immunotherapies because of alterations in their genes. If [Balversa] can basically unmask and help that select cohort, right there, you’ve got an answer for a subset that really didn’t have one… It’s certainly a nice, brand-new opportunity for… a group of patients that are in dire straits.”  Urologist in private practice

Early Cancer Detection

One oncologist was lukewarm on data presented by Illumina’s Grail on its Galleri multi-cancer detection test. The oncologist cited concerns about Galleri’s sensitivity level in early-stage cancer as well as the trial’s use of symptomatic, rather than asymptomatic, patients. 

Primary Ticker: Illumina Inc. (ILMN)

Other companies mentioned: GH, Hologic Inc. (HOLX), Natera Inc. (NTRA)

“[Galleri] might be good for catching advanced cancer, but that doesn’t really help. You’d catch the advanced cancer sooner or later anyway… You want to catch them in Stage I [or] II and without symptoms. This [study] is taking patients who were having symptoms [already].” Oncologist in a group practice

Looking for more healthcare conference coverage? Read our blog posts on the World Heart Federation’s World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.23/WCC) and American Society of Hematology (ASH) conferences to learn what physicians had to say about the data presented at these annual meetings.

Stream by AlphaSense will continue to gather expert insights on the oncology market and other healthcare topics, so stay tuned for more blog posts! Don’t forget to explore the entire Stream expert transcript library to gather expert insights on the latest developments in the healthcare sector and beyond.


Alyees Qureshi, Content Marketing Specialist and Healthcare Lead

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Sara Mallatt Stahl
Sara Mallatt Stahl
Vice President and Sector Head, Healthcare at Stream by AlphaSense

Sara has more than 16 years of experience generating sell-side research content across a variety of industries, including healthcare, which is her focus at Stream by AlphaSense. Sara has a passion for developing content that helps clients pursue their ideas and sparks new ways of thinking.

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