ImmunoGen  Inc. has received orphan drug status for its drug candidate to treat small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).
If approved, the designation means that the drug, called lorvotuzumab mertansine, will receive a longer period of protection from competition from generics. The potential therapy will also be eligible for financial incentives designed to spur the development of medicines for diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.
Cambridge-based ImmunoGen has also received orphan drug designation for the drug candidate for the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma, both in the U.S. and in Europe.
“Lorvotuzumab mertansine has shown encouraging initial activity and tolerability when used as a single agent to treat relapsed SCLC, a very difficult cancer,” ImmunoGen CEO Daniel Junius said in a statement. “We believe this product candidate has the potential to make a real difference for patients with SCLC, and we’re planning to start a trial later this year that assesses the compound, used together with standard care, for first-line treatment of this cancer.”
ImmunoGen would receive seven years of market exclusivity for lorvotuzumab mertansine after it receives FDA marketing approval for the treatment of SCLC.