Assembly Biosciences reports chronic hepatitis data, shares jump

Assembly Biosciences announces presentation of ABI-H0731, ABI-H2158 data

Assembly Biosciences (ASMB) announced that data on its lead HBV core inhibitor candidates, ABI-H0731 and ABI-H2158 for the treatment of chronic HBV will be featured in a late-breaking poster session during the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Annual Meeting.

Shares jump on hepatitis data, Stockwinners

A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an “acute infection” (or a new infection). Most healthy adults that are infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some adults are unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a “chronic infection.”

Title: Continued Therapy with ABI-H0731+Nrtl Results in Sequential Reduction/Loss of HBV DNA, HBV RNA, HBeAg, HBcrAg and HBsAg in HBeAg-Positive Patients.

Abstract Summary: Final results from Phase 2a are reported for HBeAg+ patients with chronic HBV infection treated with 731+Nrtl for 24 weeks.

In Study 202, greater mean log10 declines in HBV DNA and RNA were achieved with 731+Nrtl versus entecavir alone.

In Study 201, the proportion of patients on 731+Nrtl versus Nrtl alone achieving DNA target not detected was 69% vs 0%, and the proportion of patients achieving RNA less than35 U/mL whose RNA was greater than or equal to35 U/mL at baseline was 52% vs 0% respectively.

In Study 211, there are 64 HBeAg+ patients currently on extended treatment beyond 24 weeks. Among the 27 HBeAg+ patients receiving 731+Nrtl in Study 201, 41% have now achieved DNA TND along with RNA less than35 U/mL and HBeAg less than1 IU/mL.

At their last time point, Study 202 patients now in Study 211 have demonstrated mean DNA and RNA declines of 6.1 and 3.0 logs, respectively, with observed mean log changes of greater than or equal to 0.6 for HBeAg, greater than 0.8 log for HBcrAg and greater than or equal to 0.4 log for HBsAg.

731 continues to exhibit a favorable safety and tolerability profile in patients treated for up to 1 year, with only mild/moderate adverse events and lab abnormalities, and only a single discontinuation due to a Grade 1 rash.

The combination of 731+NrtI results in faster and deeper declines in HBV DNA and RNA than NrtI alone, as well as subsequent declines in the surrogate markers of cccDNA predictive of cccDNA pool depletion, and HBsAg.

A Visual Guide to Hepatitis, Stockwinners

The emergent data supports the continued development of 731.

Abstract data are as of the time of submission; the poster is expected to include updated safety and efficacy results. Title: The Second-Generation Hepatitis B Virus Core Inhibitor ABI-H2158 is Associated with Potent Antiviral Activity in a 14-Day Monotherapy Study in HBeAg-positive Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B.

Abstract Summary: The Phase 1b study is enrolling sequential cohorts of 9 patients and each cohort will be randomized to receive 2158 or placebo QD for 14 days in a blinded manner.

Dosing in the 1st cohort has been completed. In patients receiving 2158, mean declines from Baseline to Day 15 in HBV DNA and RNA levels were 2.3 log10 and 2.1 log10 IU/mL respectively.

No serious AEs, dose limiting toxicities or premature discontinuations were reported.

Three patients reported a total of 5 mild, drug-related AEs that recovered without intervention; dizziness, fatigue, rash, headache and upper abdominal pain.

Treatment emergent laboratory abnormalities were infrequent, mild and transient, with no ALT elevations Grade greater than or equal to 1 in severity.

Day 14 plasma 2158 Cmax and AUC0-24hr were 3,390 ng/mL and 46,100 hr*ng/mL, respectively.

Results from the initial 100 mg low dose of ABI-H2158 cohort demonstrated potent antiviral activity, a favourable safety profile when administered for 14 days, and support once daily dosing in CHB patients.

Watch Shares of Adverum Biotechnologies!

Adverum Biotechnologies reports additional data from Phase 1 trial of ADVM-022

Adverum Biotechnologies (ADVM) announced additional clinical data for the first cohort of patients in the ongoing OPTIC phase 1 clinical trial of ADVM-022, the company’s intravitreal injection gene therapy, in treatment-experienced patients with wet age-related macular degeneration.

Adverum Biotechnologies reports additional data from Phase 1 trial of ADVM-022 in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, Stockwinners

Adverum also announced enrollment plans for the third and fourth cohorts in the ongoing OPTIC trial.

The third cohort has been initiated and patients will be treated with ADVM-022 at a dose of 2 x 10^11 vg/eye, the same dose used in the second cohort.

Subsequently, patients in the fourth cohort will be treated with ADVM-022 at a dose of 6×10^11 vg/eye, the same dose used in the first cohort.

Since inflammation has generally been mild and responsive to steroid eye drops, patients in the third and fourth cohorts will receive prophylactic steroid eye drops instead of prophylactic oral steroids.

Previously, on September 12, 2019, Adverum presented data from the first cohort in the ongoing OPTIC trial at a pre-specified 24-week time point.

Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration, Stockwinners

The additional data for this cohort includes key outcomes with a median follow-up of 34 weeks.

In treatment-experienced patients previously requiring frequent anti-VEGF injections to maintain vision, the data continue to demonstrate that the single ADVM-022 injection in this cohort was sufficient to maintain vision, with zero rescue injections required for any of the six patients.

Aaron Osborne, MBBS, chief medical officer of Adverum, added, “The clinical profile of ADVM-022 demonstrates this gene therapy’s potential to be a significant advance for patients with wet AMD. It is very encouraging that there continues to be zero rescue injections in this cohort of treatment-experienced patients with more than 6 months follow-up on all patients. We are expanding the development of ADVM-022 and are excited to share that enrollment is now open for the third cohort in OPTIC.

We look forward to being able to deliver this novel intravitreal gene therapy candidate as soon as possible to patients with wet AMD and diabetic retinopathy, our second indication for ADVM-022. We are grateful for all of the investigators, patients, and caregivers who continue to participate in the OPTIC trial.”

Adverum plans to begin dosing patients in the third cohort of the OPTIC trial in the fourth quarter of 2019 and plans to begin enrollment in the fourth cohort in the first quarter of 2020.

Adverum plans to present 52-week data from the first cohort of patients in the OPTIC trial as well as 24-week data from the second cohort of patients in the first half of 2020.

Adverum plans to submit an investigational new drug application for the treatment of ADVM-022 in diabetic retinopathy in the first half of 2020.

Piper Jaffray

Commenting on Adverum Biotechnologies update at AAO, Piper Jaffray analyst Tyler Van Buren notes that zero rescue injections have been required and disease activity by OCT and visual acuity has been maintained with 6 ADVM-022 patients now out to a median of 34 weeks.

Importantly, despite the intense criticism over inflammation and visual acuity fluctuations during the initial data disclosure last month, numerous KOLs at the conference were unconcerned and believe that ADVM-022 looks like a potential treatment option so far, he contends.

Overall, the analyst argues that safety continues to be clean in these initial patients and looks forward to the 52-week update in first half of 2020.

Van Buren reiterates an Overweight rating and $14 price target on the shares as ADVM-022 continues to look like a viable gene therapy candidate for wet AMD, which has $1B-plus potential.

ADVM closed at $5.29.

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Sarepta reports positive results for muscular dystrophy Type 2E treatment

Sarepta announces results from gene therapy trial for beta sarcoglycanopathy

Sarepta Therapeutics (SPRT) announced the nine-month functional results from three Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy Type 2E ,LGMD2E, clinical trial participants who received SRP-9003. SRP-9003 is an investigational gene therapy intended to transduce skeletal and cardiac muscle with a gene that codes for the full-length, native beta-sarcoglycan protein, the lack of which is the sole cause of LGMD2E.

Sarepta drops after U.K. trial halt,
Sarepta rises on muscular dystrophy data, Stockwinners

In Cohort 1 of the SRP-9003 study, three participants ages 4-13 were treated with an infusion of SRP-9003 at a dose of 5x1013vg/kg.

Improvements in functional outcomes were observed at day 270 for all three participants.

“We have now observed consistent functional improvements, in addition to high levels of expression of the missing protein of interest and strong results in related biomarkers, in both of our first cohorts for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and LGMD2E. We intend to test one higher dose of SRP-9003 in LGMD2E participants, select our clinical dose and then advance our SRP-9003 program, along with our other five LGMD programs, as rapidly as possible,” said Doug Ingram, Sarepta’s president and chief executive officer.

“With the results of our first LGMD2E cohort, Sarepta continues to build its gene therapy engine, an enduring model created to design, develop and bring to the medical and patient community transformative therapies for those living with, and too often dying from, rare genetic disease.”

No new safety signals were observed and the safety profile seen to date supports the ability to dose escalate in the next cohort of the study. As previously disclosed, two participants in the study had elevated liver enzymes, one of which was designated a serious adverse event (SAE), as the participant had associated transient increase in bilirubin. Both events occurred when the participants were tapered off oral steroids and, in both instances, elevated liver enzymes returned to baseline and symptoms resolved following supplemental steroid treatment.

SPRT is up $5.52 to $86.86.

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AstraZeneca and Merck report prostate cancer data

AstraZeneca, Merck presents results from Phase 3 PROfound trial of LYNPARZA

AstraZeneca (AZN) and Merck (MRK) presented detailed results from the Phase 3 PROfound trial in 387 men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who have a mutation in their homologous recombination repair genes and whose disease had progressed on prior treatment with new hormonal agent treatments e.g. abiraterone or enzalutamide.

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AstraZeneca and Merck report prostate cancer, Stockwinners

The trial was designed to analyze men with mCRPC harboring HRR-mutated genes in two cohorts: the primary endpoint was in those with mutations in BRCA1/2 or ATM genes and then, if LYNPARZA showed clinical benefit, a formal analysis was performed of the overall trial population of men with HRRm genes.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
AstraZeneca and Merck report prostate cancer , Stockwinners

Results showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement with LYNPARZA in the primary endpoint of radiographic progression-free survival in BRCA1/2 or ATM-mutated tumors reducing the risk of disease progression or death by a median of 7.4 months versus 3.6 months for those receiving abiraterone or enzalutamide.

LYNPARZA reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 66% for these men. The trial also met the key secondary endpoint of rPFS in the overall HRRm population, where LYNPARZA reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 51% and improved rPFS to a median of 5.8 months vs. 3.5 months for those receiving abiraterone or enzalutamide.

In the key secondary endpoint of time to pain progression, median TTPP was not reached with LYNPARZA and was 9.92 months with abiraterone and enzalutamide in patients with BRCA1/2 or ATM mutations.

Results also showed a trend at this interim analysis time point for improvement in overall survival, another key secondary endpoint. LYNPARZA extended OS to a median of 18.5 months versus 15.1 months for abiraterone or enzalutamide in men with BRCA1/2 or ATM-mutated tumors, of which 81% started on abiraterone or enzalutamide and, following confirmed disease progression, then switched to LYNPARZA.

At this interim analysis, the OS endpoint did not meet statistical significance. In an exploratory analysis, a similar trend in OS was observed at this interim analysis in the HRRm population with a median of 17.5 months for men treated with LYNPARZA vs. 14.3 months for those receiving abiraterone or enzalutamide.

The trial showed a confirmed overall response rate a key secondary endpoint of 33.3% for LYNPARZA vs. 2.3% for abiraterone or enzalutamide in patients with BRCA1/2 or ATM mutations.

In an exploratory analysis of patients in the overall HRRm population, confirmed ORR was 21.7 % for LYNPARZA vs. 4.5% for patients receiving abiraterone or enzalutamide. The safety and tolerability profile of LYNPARZA in the PROfound trial was in line with that observed in prior clinical trials.

The most common adverse events greater than or equal to20% for LYNPARZA compared to abiraterone or enzalutamide were anemia, nausea, fatigue and asthenia, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. Grade 3 or above AEs were anemia, fatigue and asthenia, vomiting, dyspnea, urinary tract infection, nausea, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and back pain. AEs led to discontinuation of treatment in 16% of patients on LYNPARZA vs. 9% on abiraterone and enzalutamide.

AstraZeneca and Merck are also exploring additional trials in prostate cancer, including the ongoing Phase 3 PROpel trial, evaluating LYNPARZA as a first-line therapy in mCRPC for patients with or without HRR mutations, in combination with abiraterone acetate.

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FDA panel approves Aimmune Therapeutics’ peanut allergy treatment

FDA Panel approves peanut allergy treatment, Stockwinners

A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 8-1 in favor of the benefits of Aimmune Therapeutics’ (AIMT) peanut allergy treatment outweigh the risks. The panel also voted 8-1 in favor of the drug’s safety. The body of independent advisers voted 7-2 in favor of effectiveness.

If approved, Palforzia could come with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS. A REMS includes special steps a physician must take when prescribing a medication to limit serious side effects.

Side effects are key when it comes to Palforzia. In a key study, 11.6% of patients who received the peanut allergy treatment dropped out due to side effects vs. 2.4% of patients who took a placebo. Further, Palforzia patients needed emergency allergy shots more frequently.

Peanut allergy is expected to be a $3.9B market by 2027, Stockwinners

The advisory committee vote is not binding, but is a recommendation to the full FDA.

Peanut allergies are the leading cause of death from food-induced allergic reactions in the United States but a lack of approved preventive treatments has left patients and caregivers desperate for options.

Palforzia, previously known as AR101, is an oral immunotherapy consisting of fixed doses of powdered peanut that is sprinkled over food daily.

While it does not aim to cure peanut allergy, the treatment’s clinical trials have shown that patients consuming small doses of the substance to which they are allergic become desensitized over time, reducing the likelihood or severity of a reaction to it.

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If approved, Palforzia is expected to have a black box warning, the FDA’s harshest, and strict restrictions requiring the therapy to be administered in a certified facility.

Aimmune expects to win approval for use of Palforzia in patients aged 4 to 17 and said it is considering a list price range of between $3,000 and $20,000 a year.

Analyst Comments

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond kept an Overweight rating and $60 price target on Aimmune after an FDA’s Allergenic Products Advisory Committee, or APAC, voted in favor of the company’s AR101 peanut allergy drug on both efficacy and safety.

The analyst said, after the vote, he “increasingly likes the chances for Palforzia approval by late January 2020 (if not sooner).” Raymond noted that the stock is likely to open sharply higher on Monday as there is a 30% short interest in Aimmune, and said he is a buyer on the open as he sees “a lot of room to go.”

AIMT last traded at $24.67.

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Celgene sells its Otezla to Amgen for $13.4 billion

Amgen to acquire Otezla from Celgene for $13.4B in cash

Amgen (AMGN) announced that it has entered into an agreement with Celgene (CELG) in connection with its previously announced merger with Bristol-Myers (BMY) to acquire worldwide rights to Otezla, “the only oral, non-biologic treatment for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis,” and certain related assets and liabilities, for $13.4B in cash, or approximately $11.2B, net of the present value of $2.2B in anticipated future cash tax benefits.

Bristol Meyers Comments on Celgene purchase, Stockwinners
Celgene sells Otezla to pave the way for its merger with Bristol-Meyers, Stockwinners

Otezla (apremilast) is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for whom phototherapy or systemic therapy is appropriate. Otezla is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of adult patients with active psoriatic arthritis. Otezla is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of adult patients with oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease.

Amgen goes shopping, Stockwinners

Amgen believes that the acquisition of Otezla offers many benefits including: A strong strategic fit with Amgen’s long-standing expertise in psoriasis and inflammation; A differentiated, oral therapy complementary to Amgen’s existing inflammation franchise of innovative biologics and biosimilar products; At least low double-digit Otezla sales growth, on average, over the next five years; Acceleration of Amgen’s near- and long-term revenue growth; Immediate non-GAAP EPS accretion; Intellectual Property exclusivity through at least 2028 in the U.S.; Worldwide rights which fit well with Amgen’s international presence and global expansion objectives; Support of increased R&D investment in 2020 to advance Amgen’s innovative pipeline of first-in-class molecules; No interruption in deployment of Amgen’s capital allocation priorities. Sales of Otezla in 2018 were $1.6B driven by strong volume growth.

Bristol-Myers treatment for colorectal cancer approved, Stockwinners
Bristol-Myers is in the process of buying Celgene, Stockwinners

The closing of the acquisition is contingent on Bristol-Myers entering into a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission in connection with the pending Celgene merger, the closing of the pending merger with Celgene and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019.

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Cambrex sold for $2.4 billion

Cambrex to be acquired by Permira Funds for $60.00 per share in cash, or $2.4B

Cambrex sold for $2.4 billion, Stockwinners

Cambrex (CBM) announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of the Permira funds in a transaction valued at approximately $2.4B, including Cambrex’s net debt.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Cambrex shareholders will receive $60.00 in cash for each share of Cambrex common stock, which represents a 47.1% premium to the August 6 closing stock price and a 37.3% premium to the 60-day volume weighted average closing price leading up to this announcement.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of approval by Cambrex’s shareholders and customary regulatory approvals. Closing is expected to occur during the fourth quarter.

Permira goes shopping, Stockwinners

The transaction will be financed through a combination of debt and equity financing.

Cambrex Corporation provides various products and services for the development and commercialization of new and generic therapeutics worldwide. Its products comprise active pharmaceutical ingredients and pharmaceutical intermediates that are used in the production of prescription and over-the-counter drug products, as well as finished dosage forms.

The company serves generic drug companies; and companies that discover and commercialize small molecule human therapeutics. The company sells its products directly, as well as through independent agents. 

Cambrex announced that it will not hold a second quarter 2019 earnings conference call and will not update previously provided financial guidance given the pending acquisition.

The Permira investment team advises the Permira Funds. The investment team identifies long-term macro trends to back, across five key sectors including healthcare. Healthcare is one of the World’s largest industries, spanning hundreds of sub-sectors (e.g., from Biotechnology to Heavy Medical Equipment, from Hospitals to Veterinary medicine). It has the potential to create significant value for its customers through improving the human experience but its costs are also potentially limitless. The sector’s fundamental trends and complexity along with its scale generate attractive investment opportunities.

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Pancreatic cancer data sends shares of Tyme Technologies higher

Tyme Technologies presents updated data from TYME-88-Panc Phase II study

Tyme Techs. shares jump of data, Stockwinners

Tyme Technologies (TYME) announced that its multicenter open-label Phase II TYME-88-Panc study evaluating SM-88 as an oral monotherapy in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer continues to demonstrate encouraging results and a well-tolerated safety profile.

The data from the TYME-88-Panc study were presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology 21st World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer.

The Annual meeting is held in Barcelona this year, Stockwinners

Updated results from the ongoing multicenter open-label Phase II TYME-88-Panc study involved 49 heavily pretreated patients with radiographically progressive metastatic pancreatic cancer who had significant disease related morbidity before receiving TYME’s investigational agent SM-88.

More than 80% of patients had received at least two prior lines of therapy. Of the 49 patients, 38 patients were evaluable for efficacy, as defined in the protocol.

Pancreatic cancer, Stockwinners

TYME-88-Panc is a two-part study in which Part 1 was intended to determine optimal dosing and assess if early clinical benefit supported further development of SM-88 in pancreatic cancer.

This study is being performed under a TYME IND with input from the FDA prior to study initiation. In this study, based on information available as of April 25, 2019, the median overall survival of evaluable patients was 6.4 months.

Certain efficacy indicators correlate A RECIST clinical benefit rate of stable disease or better was achieved by 44% of patients with available imaging. Notably, patients achieving stable disease or better demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in survival with a 92% reduction in risk of death.

The CBR was durable with majority of these patients remaining in stable disease or better at more than 7 months after receiving treatment with SM-88.

The measurement of CTCs is emerging as an important prognostic indicator in patients with pancreatic cancer. This is now the second TYME study in cancer patients showing that SM-88 reduces CTCs.

In a previous study of patients with prostate cancer, SM-88 treatment was also associated with a reduction in CTC count. In the TYME-88-Panc study, a median reduction of 63% in CTC burden was observed in evaluable patients. Importantly, patients with available results reaching an 80% reduction or greater in CTCs demonstrated a 60% decrease in risk of death.

In addition to these findings from the TYME-88-Panc study, data were also presented on subgroup analyses. TYME identified several screening criteria that were associated with rapidly declining prognostic factors defined as greater than 2 lines of prior therapy; age greater than 75 years old; albumin less than 3.5 g/dl. Patients with no indicators of poor prognosis had a better trend in survival.

TYME identified key sub-groups of patients who performed better. Patients with 1 or 2 prior lines of therapy had a better trend in survival. Female patients had a statistically significant trend toward better survival. These encouraging findings warrant further clinical evaluation of these subgroups. As of April 25, 2019, the study reported that SM-88 was well tolerated with only 4.0% of patients who experienced serious adverse events deemed at least possibly related to SM-88. One patient with reported SAEs continued on treatment.

The TYME-88-Panc research results are from an investigational study. SM-88 is not approved for the treatment of patients with any disease condition.

TYME is up 30 cents to $1.52.

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Karyopharm Therapeutics shares jump on FDA decision

Karyopharm announces FDA approval of XPOVIO-dexamethasone combination for multiple myeloma

Karyopharm Therapeutics shares soar on FDA approval, Stockwinners

Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. (KPTI) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved oral XPOVIO, a nuclear export inhibitor, in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four prior therapies and whose disease is refractory to at least two proteasome inhibitors, at least two immunomodulatory agents, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on response rate.

Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial.

XPOVIO to become commercially available in the U.S. on or before July 10, 2019, Stockwinners

The ongoing, randomized Phase 3 BOSTON study evaluating selinexor in combination with Velcade and low-dose dexamethasone will serve as the confirmatory trial.

The FDA’s Accelerated Approval Program was developed to allow for expedited approval of drugs that treat serious conditions and that fill an unmet medical need.

Karyopharm expects XPOVIO to become commercially available in the U.S. on or before July 10, 2019.

A Marketing Authorization Application for selinexor is also currently under review by the European Medicines Agency.

The FDA advises health care professionals to tell females of reproductive age and males with a female partner of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with Xpovio.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Xpovio because it may cause harm to a developing fetus or newborn baby. Xpovio must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks.

The FDA granted this application Fast Track designation. Xpovio also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

Executive Changes

In a regulatory filing, Karyopharm disclosed that on July 2, Karyopharm Therapeutics promoted Perry Monaco to Senior Vice President, Sales responsible for the company’s sales function under the direction of Michael Kauffman, Chief Executive Officer of the company.

On July 2, following the buildout of the company’s commercial organization and development of the company’s product launch strategy, Anand Varadan resigned as Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer of the company, effective July 5.

KPTI last traded at $8.15.

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Allergan sold for $63 billion

AbbVie to acquire Allergan in cash, stock deal valued around $63B

Watch Allergan into better botox data. See Stockwinners.com
Allergan sold for $63 billion, Stockwinners

AbbVie (ABBV) and Allergan (AGN) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive transaction agreement under which AbbVie will acquire Allergan in a cash and stock transaction for a transaction equity value of approximately $63B, based on the closing price of AbbVie’s common stock of $78.45 on June 24.

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Abbvie to pay $63B to buy Allergan, Stockwinners

Upon completion of the transaction, AbbVie will continue to be incorporated in Delaware as AbbVie Inc. and have its principal executive offices in North Chicago, IL.

AbbVie will continue to be led by Richard Gonzalez as chairman and CEO.

Two members of Allergan’s board, including chairman and CEO, Brent Saunders, will join AbbVie’s board upon completion of the transaction.

Under the terms of the Transaction Agreement, Allergan Shareholders will receive 0.8660 AbbVie Shares and $120.30 in cash for each Allergan Share that they hold, for a total consideration of $188.24 per Allergan Share.

The transaction represents a 45% premium to the closing price of Allergan’s Shares on June 24.

AbbVie anticipates that the Acquisition will provide annual pre-tax synergies and other cost reductions of at least $2B in year three while leaving investments in key growth franchises untouched.

Botox is one of Allergan’s leading products, Stockwinners

The synergies and other cost reductions will be a result of optimizing the research and early stage portfolio, and reducing overlapping R&D resources, driving efficiencies in SG&A, including sales and marketing and central support function costs, and eliminating redundancies in manufacturing and supply chain, and leveraging procurement spend.

The synergies estimate excludes any potential revenue synergies.

AbbVie is expected to generate significant annual operating cash flow, which will support a debt reduction target of $15B to $18B before the end of 2021, while also enabling a continued commitment to Baa2/BBB or better credit rating and continued dividend growth.

It is expected that, immediately after the closing of the Acquisition, AbbVie Shareholders will own approximately 83% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis and the Allergan Shareholders will own approximately 17% of AbbVie on a fully diluted basis.

PIPER COMMENTS

Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Raymond said his first reaction to the deal could be summed up with the phrase “two turkeys don’t make an eagle,” but he is “willing to listen” despite his skepticism about the transaction.

Though he cannot say he is “excited at the prospect of AbbVie entering the field of medical aesthetics,” EPS accretion of 10% in year one and over 20% at peak, and the potential for meaningful deleveraging and cost cutting, has his attention, Raymond said. He keeps a Neutral rating on AbbVie based on his initial reaction to the deal announcement.

Humira is AbbVie’s blockbuster drug, Stockwinners

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo analyst David #Maris said he views the deal as a good alternative for Allergan versus the current share price, but he is not convinced its a better long term alternative given the eventual biosimilar threat to Abbvie’s blockbuster drug Humira.

With that said, Maris tells investors that “deals at such premiums are rarely killed because of a bad strategic fit or longer -term value outlook in the absence of other bidders.” Though he would not completely rule out an activist investor disrupting the deal, he thinks it is unlikely given there has been a strategic review of the company for some time. Maris, who said he thinks the deal could go through, keeps an Outperform rating on Allergan shares.

Leerink 

SVB Leerink analyst Marc Goodman is not surprise that one of the large pharma companies has made a bid on Allergan (AGN) given the multi-year stock weakness.

Juvederm is another one of Allergan’s top selling products. Stockwinners

However, he believes a $188 price is “too low,” as he “can’t believe that Allergan is not being taken out at least at $200,” which “begs the question” whether this was a process or is AbbVie (ABBV) “opportunistically pursuing a wounded stock.” If it is the latter, Goodman believes this bid could initiate others to pursue Allergan as well. He has an Outperform rating on Allegan’s shares.

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US Ecology and NRC Group to merge

US Ecology, NRC Group to merge in all-stock transaction

US Ecology and NRC Group to merge, Stockwinners

US Ecology (ECOL) announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with NRC Group Holdings (NRCG) in an all-stock transaction with an enterprise value of $966M.

U.S. Ecology and NRC Group to merge, Stockwinners

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter and is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, respective stockholder approvals and other customary closing conditions.

The transaction will create a nationwide leader in industrial and hazardous waste management services and is projected to be mid-single digit accretive to US Ecology’s 2020 adjusted earnings per share, before synergies.

The transaction has been approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors.

Upon completion of the transaction, US Ecology stockholders will own approximately 70% of the combined company, and NRCG stockholders will own approximately 30% on a fully diluted basis.

The combined company will use the US Ecology name, and its shares will continue to be listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker ECOL.

Jeffrey Feeler will continue to serve as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The company will maintain its headquarters in Boise, Idaho with regional support centers in Boise, Detroit, New York and Houston.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, US Ecology will form a new holding company which will take the name of US Ecology, Inc. immediately upon the closing of the transaction and will own both US Ecology and NRCG.

US Ecology stockholders will receive 1 share of common stock of the new holding company for each share of US Ecology common stock they own upon closing of the transaction.

NRCG common stockholders will receive 0.196 shares of common stock of the new holding company for each share of NRCG common stock they own upon closing of the transaction.

The exchange ratio represents a price of $12.00 per share of NRCG stock, based on the US Ecology average share price over the last 15-trading days.

The $12.00 price per share represents a premium of approximately 36% to NRCG’s June 21 closing price of $8.83.

Each share of NRCG’s 7.00% Series A Convertible Cumulative Preferred Stock is expected to be converted in the merger into approximately 1.8 common shares of the new holding company.

NRCG’s 19.249M outstanding Warrants to purchase NRCG common stock will be converted to 3.773M Warrants to purchase common stock of the new holding company, with a strike price of $58.67 each.

The transaction will provide NRCG stockholders with continued participation in the future prospects expected to result from the combination through their ownership of approximately 30% of the stock of the new holding company, on a fully diluted basis.

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Array BioPharma sold for $11.4 billion

Pfizer to acquire Array BioPharma for $48.00 per share in cash, or $11.4B

Array BioPharma sold for $11.4 billion, Stockwinners

Pfizer (PFE) and Array BioPharma (ARRY) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Pfizer will acquire Array, a commercial stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of targeted small molecule medicines to treat cancer and other diseases of high unmet need.

Array BioPharma Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecule drugs to treat patients with cancer and other diseases. It provides BRAFTOVITM (encorafenib) capsules in combination with MEKTOVI (binimetinib) tablets for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAF mutation. The company’s lead clinical programs include encorafenib and binimetinib that are investigated in approximately 30 clinical trials for various solid tumor indications, including a Phase III trial in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. Its product pipeline also includes ipatasertib, an AKT inhibitor that is in Phase III trial to treat prostate or breast cancers; selumetinib, a MEK inhibitor for cancer; larotrectinib, a PanTrk inhibitor that is in a Phase II/registration clinical trial for cancer; tucatinib, a HER2 inhibitor for breast cancer, which is in Phase II/registration trial; and ARRY-797 that is in Phase III clinical trial for Lamin A/C-related dilated cardiomyopathy. 

Pfizer has agreed to acquire Array for $48 per share in cash, for a total enterprise value of approximately $11.4B.

The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the merger. Upon the close of the transaction,

Array’s employees will join Pfizer and continue to be located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Morrisville, North Carolina, as well as Boulder, Colorado, which becomes part of Pfizer’s Oncology Research & Development network in addition to La Jolla, California and Pearl River, New York.

Pfizer expects to finance the majority of the transaction with debt and the balance with existing cash.

The transaction is expected to be dilutive to Pfizer’s Adjusted Diluted EPS by 4c-5c in 2019, 4c-5c in 2020, neutral in 2021, and accretive beginning in 2022, with additional accretion and growth anticipated thereafter.

Pfizer will provide any appropriate updates to its current 2019 guidance in conjunction with its third quarter 2019 earnings release.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, a subsidiary of Pfizer will commence a cash tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Array common stock for $48 per share in cash for a total enterprise value of approximately $11.4B.

The closing of the tender offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Array common stock.

The merger agreement contemplates that Pfizer will acquire any shares of Array that are not tendered into the offer through a second-step merger, which will be completed promptly following the closing of the tender offer.

Pfizer expects to complete the acquisition in the second half of 2019.

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Bempegaldesleukin data should send Nektar shares higher

Nektar presents biomarker, clinical data from PIVOT-02 Phase 2 study

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Nektar presents biomarker, clinical data from PIVOT-02 Phase 2 study, Stockwinners

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced that biomarker and clinical data from PIVOT-02 was presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

#Bempegaldesleukin is an investigational, CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway agonist designed to provide sustained signaling through the IL-2 beta-gamma receptor.

Bempegaldesleukin is under investigation in clinical trial NCT03729245 (A Study of NKTR-214 in Combination With Nivolumab Compared With the Investigator’s Choice of a Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Therapy (Either Sunitinib or Cabozantinib Monotherapy) for Advanced Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)).

PIVOT-02 is an ongoing Phase 2 study evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab in solid tumors.

Exploratory biomarker analyses of PIVOT-02 baseline tumor biopsies identified immune signatures that potentially enrich for response in patients with 1L metastatic melanoma and not 1L metastatic urothelial carcinoma.

Notable response rates were seen in both 1L metastatic melanoma and 1L metastatic urothelial cancer patients, regardless of PD-L1 status or unfavorable tumor microenvironments.

At a median time of follow-up of 12.7 months, confirmed objective response rate was 53% in efficacy-evaluable patients, with 34% of patients achieving confirmed complete responses. 42% of patients achieved a maximum reduction of 100% in target lesions. DCR, also known as disease control rate was 74%.

Median time to response was 2 months. Median duration of response was not reached. At the 12.7 month median follow-up, data were too immature to calculate median progression-free survival. 80% of patients with responses have ongoing responses. Amongst the 35 patients with known pre-treatment PD-L1 status, ORR in PD-L1 negative patients was 6/14 and in PD-L1 positive patients was 13/21.

One of three patients with unknown PD-L1 baseline status experienced a CR.

A total of 6/41 of patients experienced a Grade 3 or higher TRAE with 4/41 patients discontinuing treatment due to a TRAE. A total of 41 patients have been treated at the RP2D with 3 patients discontinuing prior to 1st scan due to an unrelated treatment-emergent adverse event and patient decision.

A Phase 3 trial evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab versus nivolumab in first-line advanced melanoma patients is currently recruiting patients.

A Phase 2 pivotal trial evaluating bempeg in combination with nivolumab in first-line metastatic urothelial cancer is currently recruiting patients.

 Piper Jaffray

Piper Jaffray analyst Tyler Van Buren reiterates an Overweight rating and $100 price target on Nektar, and believes shares should be up significantly on Monday following updated data from the bempegaldesleukin + nivo PIVOT-02 melanoma cohort.

The increase in complete response rate from 24% to 34% at just beyond 12 months is more than the analyst and investors were anticipating and “the waterfall plot is like nothing [he has] ever seen in solid tumors.”

Ultimately, Van Buren believes the high quality of responses and the ability to maintain patients on therapy is contributing to robust durability, which increases his confidence in the ultimate outcome of the Phase III trial which will have a final mPFS evaluation around Q3 of 2020.

NKTR closed at $31.32.

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Cara Therapeutics shares jump on KALM-1 data

Cara Therapeutics announces topline data from KALM-1 Phase 3 trial

Cara reports positive top-line data from CR845, Stockwinners
Cara reports positive results from the KALM-1 pivotal Phase 3 trial of Korsuva Injection in hemodialysis patients , Stockwinners

Cara Therapeutics (CARA) announced topline data from the KALM-1 pivotal Phase 3 trial of Korsuva Injection in hemodialysis patients with moderate-to-severe chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus, or CKD-aP.

Chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus ( #CKD-aP ) is a distressing, often overlooked condition in patients with CKD and end-stage renal disease. It affects ~40% of patients with end-stage renal disease and has been associated with poor quality of life, poor sleep, depression, and mortality.  Despite being an annoyance, CKD-associated pruritus (CKD-aP) can adversely affect the quality of life (QOL) and medical outcomes. 

The proportion of patients on 0.5 mcg/kg of Korsuva Injection achieving a three-point or greater improvement from baseline in the weekly mean of the daily 24 hour Worst Itching Intensity Numeric Rating Scale, or WI-NRS, score at week 12 was 51% vs. 28% for patients on placebo.

The proportion of patients on 0.5 mcg/kg of Korsuva Injection achieving a four-point or greater improvement from baseline in the weekly mean of the daily 24 hour WI-NRS score at week 12 was 39% vs. 18% for patients on placebo.

Patients on #Korsuva Injection experienced a 43% improvement in the average total Skindex-10 score at week 12 vs. patients on placebo.

Patients on Korsuva Injection experienced a 35% improvement in the average total 5-D Itch score at week 12 vs. patients on placebo.

Korsuva was generally well-tolerated with a safety profile consistent with that seen in earlier Korsuva clinical trials.

Overall, the incidence of adverse events, or AEs, and serious AEs were similar across both Korsuva and placebo groups.

The most common treatment emergent AEs reported in greater than 5% of patients were diarrhea, dizziness, nasopharyngitis and vomiting.

CARA is up 12.5% to $20.21 per share.

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Incyte to present at ASCO meeting in Chicago

Incyte announces abstracts featuring genomic profiling data for ASCO

Incyte Corp. (INCY) announces that multiple abstracts highlighting data from its oncology portfolio will be presented at the upcoming 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, to be held from May 31-June 4, in Chicago, Illinois; and the 24th Congress of the European Hematology Association, to be held June 13-16, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Abstracts accepted for presentation at ASCO feature genomic profiling data from Incyte’s ongoing Phase 2 FIGHT-202 trial evaluating its selective fibroblast growth factor receptor inhibitor, pemigatinib, in patients with cholangiocarcinoma, as well as efficacy and safety data from the Novartis-sponsored GEOMETRY mono-1 trial of capmatinib, the investigational selective MET inhibitor licensed to Novartis (NVS) by Incyte.

Additionally, data to be presented at EHA will showcase the continued study of Incyte’s JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor, #ruxolitinib, in myeloproliferative neoplasms.

“Our presence at ASCO and EHA illustrates Incyte’s ongoing commitment to discovering and developing therapeutic options that address significant unmet medical needs for patients,” said Steven Stein, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Incyte.

ASCO’s annual meeting is May 31-June 4 in Chicago, Stockwinners

“We are pleased to highlight new data on two investigational medicines – pemigatinib and capmatinib – that were discovered by Incyte scientists and for which we anticipate applications for initial U.S. regulatory approvals later this year, as well as data that furthers our understanding of the treatment of MPNs.”

Incyte Corporation focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of various therapeutics in the United States. The company offers JAKAFI, a drug for the treatment of myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera cancers; and Iclusig, a kinase inhibitor to treat chronic myeloid leukemia and philadelphia-chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Its clinical stage products include ruxolitinib, a drug in Phase III clinical trial for steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host-diseases (GVHD); and Phase II trial for the treatment of essential thrombocythemia and refractory myelofibrosis.

In addition, the company engages in the development of itacitinib, which is in Phase III clinical trial to treat naïve acute and chronic GVHD, as well as Phase I/II clinical trial in combination with osimertinib for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); and pemigatinib that is in Phase II clinical trial for treating bladder cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, and 8p11 myeloproliferative syndrome, as well as a pivotal program for solid tumors with driver activations of FGF/FGFR.

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