Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) announced that it has struck a research and development agreement with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study three immunotherapy agents targeting multiple cancers.
The three immunotherapy agents include Pfizer’s proprietary immunotherapy agonistic monoclonal antibodies targeting OX40, utomilumab targeting 4-1BB, and avelumab an experimental anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody being developed in collaboration with Merck KGaA . These immuno-oncology assets will be studied alone as well as in various combinations.
The deal is in sync with Pfizer’s efforts to strengthen its immuno-oncology pipeline. The basic concept of immuno-oncology is to utilize certain parts of the immune system to fight the disease. This can be done by stimulating the immune system to attack cancer cells or by introducing immune system components into the body. While some immuno-oncology treatments have the potential to be effective as monotherapies, others may be more effective when combined with other treatments.
Pfizer enjoys a strong cancer franchise which currently consists of products like Ibrance, Xalkori and Sutent. The September acquisition of cancer-focused biopharma company Medivation added the latter’s prostate cancer treatment, Xtandi, to Pfizer’s portfolio. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. and a “Top 10” killer worldwide.
In a separate press release, Pfizer announced a tender offer to purchase for cash any and all of its outstanding 6.200% senior notes due March 15, 2019.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Pfizer has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (VNDA - Free Report) and Cambrex Corporation (CBM - Free Report) . Both companies sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Vanda Pharma’s loss estimates have narrowed by 10% for 2016 while earnings estimates for 2017 have increased almost 30% over the last 30 days. The company posted a positive earnings surprise in three of the four trailing quarters, with an average beat of 56.65%. Its share price has increased 82% year to date.
Cambrex’s earnings estimates have increased almost 4% for 2016 and 5% for 2017 over the last 30 days. The company posted a positive earnings surprise in three of the four trailing quarters, with an average beat of 19.78%. Its share price has increased 13% year to date.
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