Can Provenge come back from the moribund?


It wouldn’t be wise to expect anything big in a hurry, but it is now clear that the Sanpower Group, which acquired Dendreon about a year ago, has serious plans to do things that the “old Dendreon” never did to optimize the potential of sipuleucel-T (Provenge).

In an interview reported on the FiercePharma web site, the current Chairwoman of the “new Dendreon” seems to have made a number of significant commitments, including the following:

  • To seek approval for Provenge in Hong Kong and then in mainland China
  • To expand the indications for the product for use earlier in the course of the disease (Provenge is currently approved only for men with early stages of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer or mCRPC)
  • To maintain growth in sales of Provenge at 10 percent per annum

To outside observers, it had long been evident that the real potential of sipuleucel-T might be in the treatment of men with progressive forms of prostate cancer long before they became metastatic or castration-resistant — but the “old Dendreon” had never been able to generate the funding (or perhaps the conviction) to do real clinical investigation of this possibility.

Maybe by about 2022 we will be able to find out whether the original potential of Provenge can be matched up to reality. One can never be sure of anything like this in the field of drug development … but Provenge is still the very first form of immunotherapy approved for the treatment of any form of cancer. We would all like to know whether it might still be able to live up to the original hype.

From day 1, sipuleucel-T has been a product that had substantial benefits for a poorly defined subset of patients with mCRPC. If the “new Dendreon” can significantly improve the marketing of this product and overcome the problematic access and reimbursement problems that plagued product use in the beginning, maybe the original phoenix can rise from the ashes.

2 Responses

  1. I was diagnosed with G9 prostate cancer in 2009. The FDA first approved Provenge in 2010. I’ve been waiting over 8 years, while I’m still hormone sensitive, for the answer to that question. Probably the day I become mCRPC will be the day that Provenge will be available to hormone-sensitive patients.

    I guess 8 years ago we couldn’t just give it to 100 guys to see what the outcome would have been. … Nope, we need to do it right and take 20+ year … but it doesn’t seem right to a guy like me.

  2. Larry Fong, the US PI, once told me that sipileucel-T requires a long “landing strip”. The shorter that “strip” becomes, i.e. the greater the tumor burden, then the less likely it is to be effective.

    I have always believed that sip-T did itself a disservice by testing on late stage men — albeit I recognize it was easier to establish results over a shorter term.

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