Back to top

Analyst Blog

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MACK - Snapshot Report) fell 11.28% after the company announced that Sanofi (SNY - Analyst Report) will give up its development and commercialization rights to oncology candidate, MM-121.

Sanofi decided to return the rights to MM-121 to Merrimack after the candidate failed to meet the primary endpoint in several studies. MM-121 was being evaluated in a number of indications including ER/PR+, HER2 negative breast cancer, ovarian cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

In Nov 2013, the company had reported data from a phase II study evaluating MM-121 in combination with Aromasin in women suffering from metastatic breast cancer who had failed prior endocrine therapy. The study failed to meet the primary endpoint. However, the estimated hazard ratio for progression free survival in the overall study population trended in favor of the MM-121 arm.

MM-121 is a monoclonal antibody designed to block ErbB3 (HER3) activation in patients with heregulin-positive tumors. Merrimack stated in its press release that heregulin is associated with poor response to standard-of-care therapy and the combination of MM-121 may restore sensitivity in these extremely at-risk patients. Data from the phase II study suggested that the use of MM-121 in combination with standard-of-care therapies resulted in statistically significant reduction in the risk of progression in patients with heregulin-positive tumors.

Merrimack plans to continue MM-121 related development activities and look for a partner for this candidate. Meanwhile, for the next six months, Sanofi will continue funding the existing MM-121 phase II program.

Merrimack also announced top-line results from a randomized, exploratory phase II study on MM-121 in combination with paclitaxel followed by doxorubicin and cyclophosphamid in patients suffering from neoadjuvant breast cancer. In the second cohort, patients suffering from triple negative breast cancer, who received the combination of MM-121 and paclitaxel, achieved a pathologic complete response rate of 42.9% compared to 51.7% in the control arm.

Merrimack has three additional candidates in late stage preclinical development including MM-398 (phase III trial completed, post-gemcitabine pancreatic cancer). We believe investor focus will remain on Merrimack’s pipeline in the near term.

Merrimack carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector include Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD - Analyst Report) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (REGN - Analyst Report). Both Gilead and Regeneron hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Please login to Zacks.com or register to post a comment.

New to Zacks?

Start Here

Zacks Investment Research

Close

Are you a new Zacks Member or a visitor to Zacks.com?

Top Zacks Features

My Portfolio Tracker

Is it Time to Sell?

One of the most important steps you can take today is to set up your portfolio tracker on Zacks.com. Once you do, you'll be notified of major events affecting your stocks and/or funds with daily email alerts.

More Zacks Resources

Zacks Rank Home - Evaluate your stocks and use the Zacks Rank to eliminate the losers and keep the winners.

Mutual Fund Rank Home - Evaluate your funds with the Mutual Fund Rank for both your personal and retirement funds.

Stock/Mutual Fund Screening - Find better stocks and mutual funds. The ones most likely to beat the market and provide a positive return.

My Portfolio - Track your Portfolio and find out where your stocks/mutual funds stack up with the Zacks Rank.

Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers for Zacks #1 Rank Top Movers

Company Symbol Price %Chg
RPC INC RES 24.91 +8.35%
LITHIA MOTO… LAD 94.59 +4.60%
DELTA AIR L… DAL 39.15 +3.90%
FLAMEL TECH… FLML 14.51 +3.50%
SOUTHWEST A… LUV 28.87 +2.92%