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AbbVie (ABBV - Analyst Report) has commenced a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on its cancer candidate, veliparib. The study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of veliparib plus carboplatin in patients suffering from early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer.

The study, consisting of three arms, will compare veliparib plus carboplatin or placebo plus carboplatin to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

The key endpoint is pathological complete response which means there should not be any evidence of residual, invasive cancer in the breast tissue and lymph node tissue after treatment. The secondary endpoint is the rate of eligibility for breast conservation after treatment.

Other outcome measures that will be evaluated include event-free survival, overall survival, and complete response rate.

We are encouraged by AbbVie’s efforts to develop the oncology pipeline which consists of several mid and late-stage candidates. Apart from veliparib, ABT-199 is another important late-stage oncology candidate in AbbVie’s pipeline.

We expect 2014 to be a transitional year for the company as it absorbs the remaining impact of the genericization of its lipid franchise.

AbbVie has several pipeline-related events lined up this year including data on multiple sclerosis candidate, daclizumab from the DECIDE study in mid-14 and data on Elagolix from one of the two pivotal studies in endometriosis in the second half of 2014. Positive data on daclizumab would also allow the company to file for approval this year.

AbbVie also has some hepatitis C virus related milestones this year including regulatory submissions in the second quarter of 2014.

AbbVie is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Some better-ranked stocks in the broader sector include Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF), Medivation, Inc. (MDVN - Analyst Report) and Allergan (AGN - Analyst Report). While Actelion and Medivation carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Allergan is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock.

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