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With the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting round the corner, several companies are gearing up to present data at the conference. Last week, quite a few companies presented abstracts of data that will be discussed at ASCO. While companies like Incyte (INCY - Analyst Report) saw a decline in their share price following the presentation of abstracts, others like Clovis saw their share price surging.

Celldex (CLDX - Snapshot Report) Soars on Bristol-Myers (BMY - Analyst Report) Deal: Celldex is collaborating with Bristol-Myers Squibb for the development of varlilumab and Bristol-Myers’ nivolumab in a phase I/II study. This deal marks the growing interest in the field of immuno-oncology.

With this deal, Celldex is gaining a strong partner in the form of Bristol-Myers, a company with expertise in the field of immuno-oncology. Moreover, the deal terms look favorable – sharing of development costs and more importantly, the restructuring of the Medarex agreement. Additionally, Celldex has the freedom to explore varlilumab with other important mechanisms outside this collaboration. So no surprise that Celldex’s shares shot up 26.9% on the news.

Celldex will also be at ASCO with phase I data on varlilumab.

Incyte Ties Up with AstraZeneca (AZN - Analyst Report): Celldex was not the only one to tie up with a large-cap company last week targeting the lucrative immuno-oncology field. Incyte and AstraZeneca are also collaborating for a phase I/II study that will evaluate the efficacy and safety of AstraZeneca’s MEDI4736 in combination with Incyte’s INCB24360 in cancer patients.

Halozyme (HALO - Snapshot Report) Up on DMC Recommendation: Halozyme gained 6.9% on news that the Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) has recommended that a mid-stage study on experimental cancer treatment, PEGPH20, currently on clinical hold, may proceed with some modifications. While the news is encouraging, the FDA is yet to lift the clinical hold. Halozyme has provided this information to the agency requesting it to withdraw the clinical hold on the study.

Company/Index Last Week Last 6 Months
AMGN 0.97% -1.61%
BIIB 1.63% 18.86%
GILD 1.30% 15.61%
CELG 0.44% -2.51%
REGN 5.73% 5.51%
ALXN 3.31% 27.29%
^NBI 0.90% 7.63%
^BTK -0.13% 12.49%

* As of May 16, 2014

Other Developments:

A Look at Earnings: Last week, companies like Arena (ARNA - Snapshot Report) and MannKind (MNKD - Analyst Report) reported first quarter results. Arena’s loss was wider-than-expected and revenues missed expectations. Arena recorded Belviq sales of $2.9 million. Shares were down 6.3%.

Arena’s partner, Eisai, is going all out in supporting the promotion of their obesity treatment, Belviq – the company is increasing the sales force for Belviq by 50% to about 600. This is triple the size of the original sales force when Belviq had been launched. The sales force addition means that now about 90k physicians in the U.S. can be targeted -- almost four times the physician coverage since launch.

Meanwhile, competition in the obesity market could well increase this year with the FDA expected to deliver a decision regarding Orexigen’s (OREX - Analyst Report) NB32 (formerly known as Contrave) by Jun 10.

MannKind’s first quarter loss was a penny wider than expected but currently investor focus is more on the FDA’s decision regarding Afrezza than on results – a response from the agency should be out by Jul 15.

The Week So Far

InterMune (ITMN - Snapshot Report) Gains on Esbriet Data: InterMune presented pivotal data on its lung disease drug, Esbriet at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and published the same online in the New England Journal of Medicine. Though Boehringer Ingelheim also presented encouraging data on its lung disease candidate nintedanib, the Esbriet results looked more favorable. The market reacted positively to the data sending the shares up 13.4%.

Endocyte (ECYT - Snapshot Report) Withdraws EU Filings: Endocyte shares were down 6.01% on news that the company and its partner, Merck, have withdrawn their marketing applications for experimental ovarian cancer treatment, vintafolide plus a couple of companion imaging components.

Is Eisai Interested in Arena? Rumors regarding Eisai’s interest in acquiring partner, Arena, are picking up. The companies have a collaboration for obesity treatment, Belviq.

Insmed Up on Mid-Stage Data: Insmed shares were up 6.7% on positive data from a mid-stage study on its experimental lung disease treatment, Arikayce.

Coming Up

Over the remainder of the week, we expect more companies to present abstracts of data to be presented at ASCO.

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