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Investors in the pharma/biotech sector eagerly wait for pipeline updates as they play an important role in deciding whether or not to invest in a particular company. Pipelines are of prime importance as far as pharma/biotech companies are concerned. These companies spend a significant amount in advancing their pipelines.

Last week, AbbVie Inc. (ABBV - Analyst Report) announced that it has initiated a phase III study on its oncology candidate, veliparib in patients suffering from human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative metastatic or locally advanced breast cancer, containing BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and/or BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) mutations.

The randomized, double-blind phase III study will compare the safety and efficacy of veliparib in combination carboplatin and paclitaxel, two widely used chemotherapies with carboplatin, paclitaxel plus placebo combination. The study will enroll approximately 270 breast cancer patients.

The primary efficacy endpoint of the study is progression-free survival while the secondary endpoints include overall survival, clinical benefit rate, objective response rate and duration of response.

Apart from breast cancer, Veliparib is also being evaluated for several other oncology indications including non-small cell lung cancer (phase III).  

AbbVie-Shire Takeover Status

AbbVie is currently looking to buy UK-based Shire (SHPG - Analyst Report). A few days back, Shire rejected the third acquisition proposal from AbbVie. AbbVie’s proposal comprised £20.44 in cash and 0.7988 AbbVie share per Shire share held, representing a value of £46.11 per share of Shire. Additionally, the proposal included the formation of a new listed holding company in the U.S. post acquisition with a UK tax domicile. We expect investor focus to remain on further updates on the acquisition proposal.

Both AbbVie and Shire currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Allergan (AGN - Analyst Report) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (REGN - Analyst Report), each holding a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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