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Update on Merrimack's MM-121

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Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MACK - Free Report) has a license and collaboration agreement with Sanofi (SNY - Free Report) for the development of its oncology candidate, MM-121.

Merrimack announced results from two phase II studies evaluating MM-121 for the treatment of women with ER/PR+, HER2 negative breast cancer earlier in the week.

In the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, MM-121 was evaluated 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 (HR) for progression free survival (PFS) in the overall study population trended in favor of the MM-121 arm. Overall survival data (yet immature) is also in favor of the MM-121 arm.

The other phase II study was conducted in ER/PR+ breast cancer patients in the neoadjuvant setting in combination with Taxol. This study, which did not have a formal specified quantitative endpoint, compared the pathologic complete response (pCR) rate in patients treated with MM-121 in combination with Taxol followed by Doxil and Cytoxan (10.8%), with the pCR rate of patients receiving Taxol alone followed by Doxil and Cytoxan (3.3%).

To strengthen its oncology portfolio, Merrimack entered into an agreement with Actavis . As per the agreement, Merrimack will use its proprietary nanoliposomal technology platform to develop and manufacture various pharmaceutical products while Actavis will market the offerings.

Merrimack is eligible to receive payments up to $15.5 million under the deal, including an upfront payment of $2 million and the remaining as near-term development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments related to the first product to come out of the collaboration. For any product emanating from this collaboration, Merrimack will gain a double-digit share of profits on its future global sales.

Merrimack carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Actelion Ltd. is a better-ranked stock carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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