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Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MACK - Snapshot Report) recently announced that it has completed the enrollment process for a phase II trial on its oncology candidate, MM-121. The phase II trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy of MM-121 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY - Analyst Report) Taxol (paclitaxel) in advanced ovarian cancer patients who are platinum-resistant or platinum refractory. Merrimack is collaborating with Sanofi (SNY - Analyst Report) for MM-121.

The open-label, randomized phase II trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy of MM-121 in combination with Taxol versus Taxol alone in 223 patients enrolled in the US and Europe. The primary endpoint of the trial is progression-free survival (PFS). Merrimack expects that top-line data from the phase II trial will be released in the second half of 2013.

MM-121 is also being evaluated for other oncology indications including hormone sensitive breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and HER2 negative neoadjuvant breast cancer.

We note that Merrimack and Sanofi inked an exclusive global licensing agreement in Oct 2009 for the development and co-commercialization of MM-121. Under the terms of the agreement, for each indication, Merrimack will be responsible for the development of MM-121 till phase II proof-of-concept. Thereafter Sanofi will take up development and commercialization activities. Merrimack has the right to co-promote MM-121in the US, following its approval.

Sanofi carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) in the short run, while Merrimack carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Right now, Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report) looks more attractive in the pharma space with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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