CStone’s sugemalimumab to face tough competition in lung cancer treatment segment in China: GlobalData

In September 2020, Pfizer invested US$200m for a 9.9 percent stake in CStone to collaborate on the development and commercialization of CStone’s second-generation PD-L1 inhibitor, sugemalimumab. It is the world’s first anti-PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibody covering stage III and stage IV NSCLC patients.

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The tool is based on a machine learning model that classifies genes as tumour suppressor genes, oncogenes or neutral genes. (File)

GlobalData, a data and analytics company, said on Tuesday that CStone Pharmaceuticals’ sugemalimumab (Cejemly) recently approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) of China will face stiff competition in the country. The drug was approved to treat patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), whose disease has not progressed following concurrent or sequential or platinum-based chemoradiotherapy.

It is noteworthy that the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology 2022 guideline has already recommended sugemalimumab: level 1 for stage IV NSCLC and level 3 for stage III NSCLC. According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, the  total incident cases of NSCLC in China were 345,614 this year, of which about 60-65% fall in stages III and IV.  

In September 2020, Pfizer invested US$200m for a 9.9 percent stake in CStone to collaborate on the development and commercialization of CStone’s second-generation PD-L1 inhibitor, sugemalimumab. It is the world’s first anti-PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibody covering stage III and stage IV NSCLC patients.

“A large subset of NSCLC patients will benefit from the commercialization experience of Pfizer in targeting the relevant patient segments in China. Pfizer, with more than 1,000 sales representatives and coverage of more than 4,600 hospitals with a focus on KOL and HCP perception, will make it a well-recognized treatment within China,” Dr. Sarada Anepu, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData said in a statement.

According to GlobalData’s Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2029, among the eight major markets (8MM), diagnostic testing for biomarkers, access to targeted therapies and immune-oncology agents are the lowest in China due to lack of national reimbursement for the majority of agents or the infrastructure for testing.

Stiff competition exists between domestic PD-(L)1 drugs like camrelizumab, tislelizumab, sintilimab and the globally accepted nivolumab, pembrolizumab, atezolizumab, and durvalumab which is already approved in China for certain NSCLC patient segments.  

“Chinese reimbursement policies play a key role in market penetration. The inclusion of approved drugs in the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) plays a crucial role in the uptake and improving patient affordability. In the NRDL, domestic company’s drugs are preferred over multinational companies’ drugs. Within NSCLC, none of the multinational companies’ drugs are included in NRDL. However, competition among domestic players will increase with the expected approval of toripalimab, penpulimab, and serplulimab in NSCLC segments,” Anepu added. 

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