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Pharma Stock Roundup: AZN COVID-19 Antibody Cocktail Failure, GSK New Cancer Deal

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It was a fairly quiet week as far as news in the drug sector is concerned. The most important news was the failure of AstraZeneca's (AZN - Free Report) antibody cocktail, AZD7442 to prevent study participants who were already infected from developing symptomatic COVID-19. Glaxo (GSK - Free Report) signed a deal with iTeos Therapeutics to co-develop its investigational cancer candidate known as EOS-448.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

AstraZeneca’s Phase III Study on COVID Antibody Cocktail Misses Goal: AstraZeneca’s phase III study (STORM CHASER) evaluating AZD7442, its investigational cocktail antibody therapy, for the post-exposure prevention of symptomatic COVID-19, failed to meet the primary endpoint. In the study, AZD7442 failed to show a statistically significant reduction in the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 in adult unvaccinated study participants who had a confirmed exposure to a person with a case of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within the past eight days. AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 33% compared to placebo, which AstraZeneca said was not statistically significant.  However, in PCR negative participants in the study, treatment with AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 by 73% compared with placebo, thereby showing the cocktail therapy was somewhat effective in people who were not infected 

AZD7442 is a combo of two monoclonal antibodies, tixagevimab (AZD8895) and cilgavimab (AZD1061) Several other COVID-19 prevention and treatment studies are ongoing on AZD7442 including PROVENT, a phase III study in pre-exposure prophylaxis and TACKLE, a treatment study in preventing more severe disease in outpatient setting.

Glaxo to Co-Develop iTeos Therapeutics’ Anti-TIGIT Treatment: Glaxo announced a deal with iTeos Therapeutics to co-develop and co-commercialize the latter’s investigational cancer candidate known as EOS-448. The candidateis currently being evaluated in a phase I study for advanced solid tumors. Glaxo plans to study EOS-448, an anti-TIGIT monoclonal antibody, with its other investigational cancer therapies. Initially, Glaxo plans to begin combination studies of EOS-448 with its newly approved endometrial cancer drug, Jemperli (dostarlimab), in 2022. For the deal, Glaxo will make an upfront payment of $625 million to iTeos while the latter will also be entitled to potential milestones of up to $1.45 billion.

Lilly’s Head-to-Head Migraine Study: Eli Lilly (LLY - Free Report) initiated a head-to-head study to compare anti-CGRP migraine preventive medicines. The phase IV study will compare Lilly’s once-monthly injection, Emgality with Biohaven’s oral tablet, Nurtec ODT taken every other day for the preventive treatment of migraine. The study’s primary endpoint is 50% reduction in monthly migraine headache days. Enrollment in the study is expected to begin this year.

Pfizer’s Xeljanz Shows Benefit in COVID-19 Pneumonia: Data from the STOP-COVID study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Pfizer’s (PFE - Free Report) oral JAK inhibitor, Xeljanz (tofacitinib) in hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 pneumonia were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was conducted across 15 sites in Brazil. Data from the study showed that treatment with rheumatoid arthritis drug, Xeljanz led to a lower cumulative incidence of death or respiratory failure through day 28 — the primary outcome of the study compared to placebo in the above COVID-19 patient population. The data showed that the incidence of death or respiratory failure through day 28 was 18.1% in Xeljanz arm compared to 29.0% in placebo arm.

The NYSE ARCA Pharmaceutical Index declined 1.1% in the last five trading sessions.

Large Cap Pharmaceuticals Industry 5YR % Return

Large Cap Pharmaceuticals Industry 5YR % Return

Large Cap Pharmaceuticals Industry 5YR % Return

Here’s how the eight major stocks performed in the last five trading sessions.

Zacks Investment ResearchImage Source: Zacks Investment Research

In the last five trading sessions, Merck (MRK - Free Report) rose the most (1.3%) while Lilly declined the most (4.8%)

In the past six months, Lilly has recorded the maximum gain (31.8%) while Merck declined the most (2.7%)

(See the last pharma stock roundup here: FDA Approval for NVO, PFE Products & Other Updates)

What's Next in the Pharma World?

Watch out for regular pipeline and regulatory updates next week.

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