A CURE for declining grades of immunotherapies?

The Pharmaceutical Data Corporation, which analyzes health-care trade publications, has developed an analytical tool called the DCOMs. DCOMs assign a letter grade to every new and old drug approved and on the market. (A drug comes in A, B, C, D, and F. The current grades for the fiscal year that ended in September are published in The Pharmaceuticals Bulletin, a monthly supplement to the Journal of the American Medical Association. The DCOMs are distributed to members of the press and major trade associations such as the American Pharmaceutical Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.)

The DCOMs give immunotherapies a grade of A, but not for the Vectibix and Keytruda. A listing on the market was a factor that distinguished the two immunotherapies from the competition. With that cushion, it was possible to steer investors toward one offering, while worrying less about a competitor’s claim that the other version could increase the risk of side effects. Unfortunately, some drugmakers have used their patent protections to retire one version of an immunotherapy and launch a second version.

Now that magic anti-cancer pill has got an A. Pfizer’s lung cancer drug, Ibrance, would be the first immunotherapy to go that way. A Reuters story reported last week that PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda would not be rated at all. We’ll see if the drug reviewers agree.

[For more information, see The FT.com’s C.D.C. DCOMs.]

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