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Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s (MACK - Snapshot Report) recently announced the publication of a paper on its phase II study on its oncology candidate, MM-398, in the British Journal of Cancer.

MM-398 is currently in phase III development for the second-line treatment of pancreatic cancer patients, whose disease has progressed after being treated with Eli Lilly and Company’s (LLY - Analyst Report) Gemzar (gemcitabine). Merrimack expects to complete patient enrollment in the third quarter of 2013 and to report top-line results in fourth-quarter 2013 or first-quarter 2014 for this phase III study.

MM-398 was granted orphan drug designation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. MM-398 is being studied in several phase I and phase II studies for cancer indications other than pancreatic cancer.

The company has an assignment, sublicense and collaboration agreement with PharmaEngine, Inc. Under the agreement, Merrimack reacquired the rights to MM-398 in Europe and certain other countries. Merrimack made an upfront payment of $10 million to PharmaEngine and will be making milestone payments.

Merrimack also has a license and collaboration agreement with Sanofi (SNY - Analyst Report) for the development of another oncology candidate, MM-121. MM-121 is being evaluated for multiple cancer indications including breast cancer (phase II).

We note that Merrimack has another oncology candidate, MM-111, in its pipeline. Last month, the company advanced MM-111 into phase II development for the treatment of advanced gastric, esophageal and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer.

Merrimack currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). At present, companies like Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD - Analyst Report) look well-positioned with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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