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AbbVie's (ABBV) Cancer Candidate Fails in Phase III Studies

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AbbVie Inc. (ABBV - Free Report) recently announced disappointing top-line results from two phase III studies evaluating its PARP inhibitor, veliparib in combination with chemotherapy (such as carboplatin and paclitaxel) for treatment of patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

AbbVie’s shares underperformed the Zacks classified Large Cap Pharma industry so far this year. Shares of the company gained 1.3% while the industry registered an increase of 4.2%.

Coming back to the latest news, the two randomized, double-blind, multicenter, phase III studies failed to meet their primary endpoints. In the first study, the combination treatment failed to improve the overall survival of NSCLC patients, who had smoked within the past 12 months and had more than 100 smoking events in their lifetime. In the second study, which evaluated the treatment on patients with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer, the drug did not achieve the primary endpoint of complete pathologic response. The studies were conducted in a total number of 970 and 312 patients for the NSCLC and TNBC study, respectively.

We note that another phase III study is being conducted on veliparib, evaluating it for treatment of patients suffering from ovarian cancer.

Presently, Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) has an approved drug for NSCLC, Xalkori. This apart, AstraZeneca Plc's (AZN - Free Report) Lynparza, also known as olaparib, is approved for ovarian cancer.

AbbVie has been actively pursuing partnership deals and collaborations to enhance its oncology portfolio. In May 2015, AbbVie acquired Pharmacyclics in a deal worth approximately $21 billion. The acquisition added Imbruvica to AbbVie’s portfolio, diversifying the acquirer’s revenue base. Investors should know that Pharmacyclics has a partnership agreement with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) for Imbruvica.

Moreover, in Jun 2016, AbbVie acquired cancer drugmaker Stemcentrx. Post buyout, the company gained a late-stage candidate (rovalpituzumab tesirine or Rova-T), four additional early-stage compounds in solid tumor indications and a significant portfolio of pre-clinical assets. Rova-T is currently in registration studies for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Zacks Rank

AbbVie currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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