Back to top

Image: Bigstock

Merck's (MRK) Pneumococcal Jab Shows Upbeat Responses in Study

Read MoreHide Full Article

Merck (MRK - Free Report) announced positive data from the phase III STRIDE-3 study evaluating V116, the company’s investigational 21-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (“PCV”) specifically designed to protect adults.

The study evaluated the immunogenicity, tolerability and safety of V116 compared to pneumococcal 20-valent conjugate vaccine or PCV20 in adults who had not previously received a pneumococcal vaccine. PCV20 vaccine is the current standard of care in the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal pneumonia in adults.

In the cohort, which included adults 50 years of age and older, vaccination with V116 resulted in non-inferior immune responses to PCV20 for all 10 shared serotypes, while responses were superior for 10 of the 11 serotypes included in V116 but not included in PCV20.

In the second cohort, which evaluated adults 18 to 49 years of age, the immune responses elicited by V116 were non-inferior to those elicited in adults 50 to 64 years of age.

V116 targets serotypes that account for 83% of all invasive pneumococcal disease in older adults in the United States, including eight serotypes not covered by currently licensed vaccines. If approved, V116 would become the first PCV specifically designed for adults. 

The phase III program on V116 comprises eight studies investigating the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of V116 in various adult populations.

Merck’s stock has declined 9.7% so far this year against an increase of 4.7% for the industry.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Merck has a 15-valent PCV called Vaxneuvance (V114) in its vaccine portfolio that was approved in 2021. Vaxneuvance generated sales of $488 million in the first nine months of 2023.

Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) markets a 20-valent PCV called Prevnar-20, which was approved in the United States in June 2021 and in Europe in February 2022 (as Apexxnar).

Prevnar 20 includes all the 13 serotypes contained in Pfizer’s 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevnar 13, along with seven additional serotypes. Pfizer is also conducting studies to evaluate the co-administration of its Prevnar-20 vaccine with its COVID-19 vaccine.

GSK (GSK - Free Report) has a 24-valent PCV in its pipeline, which is currently in phase II development. The vaccine candidate was added to GSK’s portfolio with the acquisition of Massachusetts-based privately held biopharmaceutical company Affinivax in August 2022.

Zacks Rank and Stock to Consider

Merck has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) currently.

A better-ranked large drugmaker is Novo Nordisk (NVO - Free Report) , which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Estimates for Novo Nordisk’s 2023 earnings per share have increased from $2.57 to $2.62 over the past 30 days. Estimates for 2024 have jumped from $2.99 per share to $3.07 over the same timeframe. NVO’s stock has surged 50.0% year to date.

Earnings of Novo Nordisk beat estimates in two of the last four quarters, missed in one and matched estimates in one, delivering an earnings surprise of 0.58% on average.

Published in