Amgen announces discontinuation of last BCMA drug

Aug. 5, 2022

Amgen is discontinuing its last BCMA biTE candidate for “strategic reasons,” the company subtly announced in its second quarter financial reports shared this week. 

The drug, AMG 701, also known as pavurutamab, is an anti-B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) half-life extended BiTe molecule that was being investigated for the treatment of multiple myeloma. BiTE, or bispecific T-cell engager drugs, are antibodies composed of two single-chain fragments, one that is directed toward the tumor and another one that goes toward the CD3 antigen found on T cells. This can result in cell death of the BCMA expressing tumor cells. 

AMG 701 seemed like an exciting prospect for an incurable cancer, so the shutdown comes as a bit of a surprise. When the company first presented clinical data for the drug two years ago, Amgen reported an 83% overall response rate in the cohort of heavily pre-treated multiple myeloma patients.  

With the encouraging study results in hand at the time, Amgen’s executive vice president of Research and Development said, "This year alone, Amgen has presented proof-of-concept data for four BiTE molecules in hematological malignancies and solid tumors, and we are proud to end the year with these data in multiple myeloma at ASH."

But ultimately the multiple myeloma space proved too crowded for AMG 701 and the company's desire to push forward with meds that can be best-in-class and first-in-class won out.