GRAIL bought back by Illumina for $8B

Illumina to acquire GRAIL for $8B in cash, stock consideration

Illumina (ILMN) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Illumina will acquire GRAIL for cash and stock consideration of $8B upon closing of the transaction. In addition, GRAIL stockholders will receive future payments representing a tiered single digit percentage of certain GRAIL-related revenues.

Illumina buys back GRAIL

The agreement has been approved by the boards of Illumina and GRAIL.

GRAIL was founded by Illumina in 2016 and was spun out as a standalone company, powered by Illumina’s NGS technology, to develop data science and machine learning and create the atlas of cancer signals in the blood, enabling multi-cancer early detection tests.

GRAIL raised approximately $2B to support its technology platform and develop Galleri.

An earlier version of Galleri was able to detect more than 50 cancer types, over 45 of which have no recommended screening in the United States.

Galleri is expected to launch commercially in 2021 as a multi-cancer, laboratory developed test for early cancer detection from blood.

GRAIL plans to follow Galleri with future blood-based tests for cancer diagnosis, detection and post-treatment monitoring of cancer patients.

Under the terms of the agreement, at closing, GRAIL stockholders will receive total consideration of $8B, consisting of $3.5B in cash and $4.5B in shares of Illumina common stock, subject to a collar. Illumina currently holds 14.5% of GRAIL’s shares outstanding, and approximately 12% on a fully diluted basis.

The collar on the stock consideration will ensure that GRAIL stockholders excluding Illumina receive a number of Illumina shares equal to approximately $4B in value if the 20-trading-day volume weighted average price of Illumina stock as of 10 trading days prior to closing is between $295 and $399.

GRAIL stockholders excluding Illumina will receive approximately 9.9M Illumina shares if the 20-trading-day volume weighted average price of Illumina stock as of 10 trading days prior to closing is above $399 and approximately 13.4M Illumina shares if the 20-trading-day volume weighted average price of Illumina stock as of 10 trading days prior to closing is below $295.

Upon closing of the transaction, current Illumina stockholders are expected to own approximately 93% of the combined company, while GRAIL stockholders are expected to own approximately 7% based on the mid-point of the collar.

The cash consideration to GRAIL stockholders excluding Illumina of approximately $3.1B is expected to be funded using balance sheet cash of both Illumina and GRAIL plus up to $1B in capital raised through either a debt or equity issuance.

In advance of this anticipated issuance, Illumina has obtained financing commitments for a $1B bridge facility with Goldman Sachs Bank USA.

In connection with the transaction, GRAIL stockholders will also receive contingent value rights, which will entitle holders to receive future payments representing a pro rata portion of certain GRAIL-related revenues each year for a 12-year period. This will reflect a 2.5% payment right to the first $1B of revenue each year for 12 years.

Revenue above $1B each year would be subject to a 9% contingent payment right during this same period. Illumina will offer GRAIL stockholders the option to receive additional cash and/or stock consideration, in an amount to be determined prior to closing, in lieu of the contingent value rights.

The company expects the transaction will be accretive to Illumina revenue starting in 2021, and to accelerate revenue growth over time.

ILMN closed at $270.13 on Monday.

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Merck invests $1B in Seattle Genetics

Merck to acquire $1B equity stake in Seattle Genetics as part of collaborations

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Merck (MRK) announced two new strategic oncology collaborations.

The companies will globally develop and commercialize Seattle Genetics’ ladiratuzumab vedotin, an investigational antibody-drug conjugate, or ADC, targeting LIV-1, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumors.

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck bets heavily on Seattle Genetics, Stockwinners

The collaboration will pursue a broad joint development program evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin as monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other LIV-1-expressing solid tumors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will receive a $600M upfront payment and Merck will make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

Seattle Genetics scores bug with Merck

In addition, Seattle Genetics is eligible for progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6B.

Separately, Seattle Genetics has granted Merck an exclusive license to commercialize Tukysa, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Seattle Genetics will receive $125M from Merck as an upfront payment and is eligible for progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics and Merck will collaborate and equally share costs on the global development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and other LIV-1-targeting ADCs.

Breast cancer drug Liv-1 is expected to do well

The companies have agreed to jointly develop and share future costs and profits for ladiratuzumab vedotin on a 50:50 basis worldwide. Merck will pay Seattle Genetics $600M upfront and make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

In addition, Seattle Genetics will be eligible to receive up to $2.6B in milestone payments, including $850M in development milestones and $1.75B in sales milestones.

The companies will jointly develop and commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and equally share profits worldwide.

The companies will co-commercialize in the U.S. and Europe. Seattle Genetics will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in Europe and in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in countries outside the U.S., Europe and Canada. Including the upfront payment, equity investment proceeds and potential milestone payments, Seattle Genetics is eligible to receive up to $4.2B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has been granted exclusive rights to commercialize Tukysa in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics retains commercial rights and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in its territory, supported by the positive results from the HER2CLIMB clinical trial.

Merck will also co-fund a portion of the Tukysa global development plan, which encompasses several ongoing and planned trials across HER2-positive cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric and other cancers set forth in a global product development plan.

Seattle Genetics will continue to lead ongoing Tukysa global development planning and operational execution.

Merck will solely fund and conduct country-specific clinical trials necessary to support anticipated regulatory applications in its territory.

Seattle Genetics will receive from Merck $125M as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M. Seattle Genetics will also receive $85M in prepaid research and development payments to be applied to Merck’s global development funding obligations. In addition, Seattle Genetics would receive tiered royalties on sales of Tukysa in Merck’s territory.

SGEN is up 14.8% to $172.40. MRK is up 1.4% to $85.00.

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Immunomedics shares soar on its cancer drug

Immunomedics obtains Fast Track designation for sacituzumab govitecan

On Monday Immunomedics (IMMU) announced that its Phase 3 confirmatory ASCENT study will be halted due to compelling evidence of efficacy. This decision was based on the unanimous recommendation by the independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee, during its recent routine review of the ASCENT study.

Immunomedics receive’s FDA’s Fast Track designation for ASCENT, Stockwinners

ASCENT is a Phase 3 confirmatory study designed to validate the promising safety and efficacy data of sacituzumab govitecan observed in a Phase 2 study of heavily pretreated patients with metastatic TNBC. The primary endpoint for the study is progression-free survival, and secondary endpoints include overall survival and objective response rate, among others.

A biologics license application resubmission seeking accelerated approval of sacituzumab govitecan for the treatment of patients with mTNBC who have received at least two prior therapies for metastatic disease is currently under U.S. Food and Drug Administration review, with a PDUFA target action date of June 2, 2020.

The FDA previously granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for sacituzumab govitecan in this disease setting.

Today Immunomedics announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast Track designation for sacituzumab govitecan for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who have previously received a programmed death receptor-1 or programmed death-ligand 1 inhibitor, and a platinum containing chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant/adjuvant, locally advanced or metastatic setting, including patients who are platinum ineligible and have previously received a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor in the neoadjuvant/adjuvant, locally advanced, or metastatic setting.

Sacituzumab govitecan is currently being evaluated in the Phase 2 TROPHY U-01 study of patients with mUC.

Interim results from 35 patients included in the 100-patient cohort of cisplatin-eligible patients who have relapsed or are refractory to PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor and platinum-based chemotherapy were presented at the 2019 European Society for Medical Oncology Annual Congress and showed an overall response rate of 29 percent, consistent with previously reported data in this population.

Enrollment for the full cohort of 100 patients with prior platinum-based and PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor therapies has been completed, with topline data expected to be available in the second half of 2020.

While enrollment for the second cohort of 40 cisplatin-ineligible patients is expected to be completed later this year, the company has recently broadened the study to include a third cohort of PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor-naive patients to assess the combination of sacituzumab govitecan with pembrolizumab.

Urothelial cancer illustration

Urothelial cancer refers to cancer that begins in cells called urothelial cells that line the urethra, bladder, ureters, renal pelvis, and some other organs. Urothelial cells are also called transitional cells. These cells can change shape and stretch without breaking apart. Also called transitional cell cancer.

IMMU is up 59 cents to $19.37. Shares jumped yesterday from $5.35 to $20 before closing at $18.70.

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Watch shares of iCAD

iCAD announces first metastatic brain tumor treated with Xoft Axxent eBx System

iCAD (ICAD) announced the first metastatic brain tumor was treated in the U.S. with intraoperative radiation therapy, or IORT, using the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy, or eBx, System.

This procedure is the start of a clinical trial on IORT for patients with large brain metastases treated with neurological resection with the Xoft System.

iCAD reports positive brain tumor data, Stockwinners

The Xoft System is also currently being studied for the treatment of other types of brain tumors in institutions worldwide, including the European Medical Center.

Positive preliminary clinical data on Xoft IORT for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma, or GBM, was presented at the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies, or EANS.

The Xoft System is made by iCAD, Stockwinners

In a matched pair study, 30 patients were treated for recurrent GBM.

The IORT group was treated with a single fraction of radiation immediately following surgical resection, without chemotherapy or temozolomide following surgery.

The comparison group was treated with routine postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy +/- concomitant or sequential EBRT. Median overall survival, or OS, in group A was 24 months; OS for group B was 21 months.

As of September 2019, nine patients were still alive from group A, whereas none of the patients in group B survived.

A retrospective analysis published in World Neurosurgery examined the repeat resection and the various methods of IORT for the treatment of malignant brain gliomas, including high-energy linear accelerators and modern, integrated brachytherapy solutions using solid and balloon applicators.

iCAD, Inc. provides image analysis, workflow solutions, and radiation therapy for the early identification and treatment of cancer in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Cancer Detection and Cancer Therapy. The company provides electronic brachytherapy (eBX) products, including Axxent eBx systems for the treatment of early stage breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, and skin cancer, as well as for treating other cancers or conditions where radiation therapy is indicated comprising intraoperative radiation therapy.

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ChemoCentryx shares soar on data

ChemoCentryx, VFMCRP say pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial met primary endpoints

Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma, or VFMCRP, and ChemoCentryx (CCXI) announced positive topline data from the pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial of avacopan, an orally administered selective complement 5a receptor inhibitor, for the treatment of patients with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (ANCA-associated vasculitis or ANCA vasculitis).

ChemoCentryx shares soar on its ANCA drug, Stockwinners

ANCA vasculitis is an autoimmune disease affecting small blood vessels in the body. It is caused by autoantibodies called ANCAs, or Anti-Neutrophilic Cytoplasmic Autoantibodies.

This global study, in which a total of 331 patients with ANCA vasculitis were enrolled, met both of its primary endpoints, disease remission at 26 weeks and sustained remission at 52 weeks, as assessed by the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score, or BVAS.

Remission was defined as a BVAS score of zero and being off glucocorticoid treatment for ANCA vasculitis for at least the preceding four weeks.

BVAS remission at week 26 was achieved in 72.3% of the avacopan treated subjects vs. 70.1% of subjects in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

Sustained remission at 52 weeks was observed in 65.7% of the avacopan treated patients vs. 54.9% in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group, achieving both non-inferiority and superiority to glucocorticoid standard of care.

Importantly, subjects who received avacopan experienced additional benefits compared to those in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

These benefits, assessed as pre-specified secondary endpoints, include: Significant reduction in glucocorticoid-related toxicity; Significant improvement in kidney function in patients with renal disease at baseline; Improvements in health-related quality of life metrics.

The topline safety results revealed an acceptable safety profile in this serious and life threatening disease with fewer subjects having serious adverse events in the avacopan group than in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

A full analysis of the data is underway and expanded results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. “These results exceed our expectations,” said Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ChemoCentryx.

“Today we mark the dawn of a new and historic period in the lives of ANCA vasculitis patients. This day we have for the first time demonstrated that a highly targeted therapy aimed at the very center of the ANCA disease process is superior to the traditional approach of broad immune suppression therapy; a therapy which the present findings may make obsolete. Until now ANCA vasculitis patients have had to endure regimens that contain chronic high doses of steroids and all their noxious effects, but with today’s data it is clear that the time of making patients sick with steroid therapy in an attempt to make their acute vasculitis better may at last be over. Working with our partner VFMCRP, we plan to make regulatory submissions for full marketing approval to both the European Medicines Agency and the FDA in 2020.”

CCXI is up $26.68 to $34.65

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Watch shares of Mirati Therapeutics

Mirati presents data from sitravatinib in combination with nivolumab trials

Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) announced the presentation of initial data from its ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial of sitravatinib in combination with nivolumab in metastatic urothelial cancer patients with documented progression on a platinum-chemotherapy and checkpoint inhibitor.

Mirati is in focus on cancer data, Stockwinners

The data were presented in an oral presentation at the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer 34th Annual Meeting.

Preliminary results from the ongoing Phase 1 study of neoadjuvant sitravatinib combined with nivolumab in patients with resectable squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, SNOW trial, were also presented in a poster session.

The preliminary data suggest that the combination of neoadjuvant sitravatinib and nivolumab is safe and active in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity who are candidates for resection.

Chart shows Sitravatinib in action, Stockwinners

Tumor reduction was observed in all eight patients who were eligible for evaluation, including one complete pathological response.

All patients received postoperative radiation therapy, and none required postoperative chemotherapy.

With a median follow-up of 31.4 weeks, all patients are alive with no disease recurrence to date.

In most patients, treatment with sitravatinib led to a decrease in myeloid-derived suppressor cells and a shift towards M1-type macrophages in the tumor microenvironment, supporting previous preclinical findings.

“Sitravatinib is a spectrum-selective kinase inhibitor that potently inhibits receptor tyrosine kinases, including TAM family receptors that has the potential to increase responsiveness in patients whose tumors are resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. The initial efficacy data from the Phase 2 clinical trial presented today in patients with checkpoint refractory mUC is promising and extends the clinical benefit data beyond what has already been demonstrated by sitravatinib combined with nivolumab in checkpoint refractory non-small cell lung cancer,” said Charles Baum, M.D., CEO of Mirati.

Sitravatinib offers hope for cancer patients, Stockwinners

“In addition, we are evaluating sitravatinib in patients who have progressed on checkpoint therapy, including those with NSCLC and renal cell cancer, and we continue to expand development efforts of sitravatinib through our collaboration with BeiGene in multiple indications including NSCLC, renal cell cancer, hepatocellular cancer, ovarian cancer, and gastric cancer.”

MRTX closed at $104.78.

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Epizyme jumps on $100M investment

Royalty Pharma to purchase future royalties on tazemetostat from Eisai

Royalty Pharma announced that it has agreed to pay $330M to purchase Eisai Co.’s (ESALY) royalties on future worldwide sales of tazemetostat, Epizyme’s (EPZM) lead investigational agent, outside of Japan, and made an equity investment in Epizyme of $100M, with options to invest up to an additional $100M in Epizyme common stock.

In addition, investment funds managed by Pharmakon Advisors agreed to provide $70M in senior-secured loans with the possibility to fund up to $370M over time.

Tazemetostat is a first-in-class, oral EZH2 inhibitor in clinical development for certain oncology indications, including epithelioid sarcoma and follicular lymphoma.

Epizyme receives a $100M investment, Stockwinners

Under a collaboration agreement between Epizyme and Eisai, Epizyme is responsible for the development and worldwide commercialization of tazemetostat (outside of Japan) and Eisai is responsible for the development and commercialization of tazemetostat in Japan.

As part of the agreement, Epizyme owes milestones and royalties on sales of tazemetostat outside of Japan to Eisai, and Eisai owes royalties on sales of tazemetostat in Japan to Epizyme.

Under the terms of its agreement with Eisai, Royalty Pharma has acquired Eisai’s future worldwide royalties on net sales by Epizyme of tazemetostat outside of Japan, for an upfront payment of $110M plus up to an additional $220M for the remainder of the royalty upon FDA approval of tazemetostat for certain indications.

Under the terms of its agreement with Epizyme, Royalty Pharma will make an upfront payment of $100M for shares of Epizyme common stock based on a price of $15 per share.

Royalty Pharma makes $100M investment in Epizyme, Stockwinners

Epizyme has an 18-month option to sell an additional $50M of its common stock to Royalty Pharma at then prevailing prices, not to exceed $20 per share, and Royalty Pharma has a three-year option to purchase an additional 2.5M shares of Epizyme common stock at $20 per share.

In addition, Royalty Pharma will make additional payments to Epizyme if annual net sales of tazemetostat outside of Japan exceed certain thresholds, and Epizyme has assigned to Royalty Pharma the future royalty streams on tazemetostat sales in Japan previously owed to Epizyme by Eisai.

Epizyme has also agreed to appoint a representative from Royalty Pharma to its board of directors. Under the terms of the loan agreement with Epizyme, investment funds managed by Pharmakon Advisors will fund $25M at closing and up to an additional $45M in two tranches.

In addition, the loan agreement contemplates the potential for an additional $300M, subject to mutual agreement of the parties. The loans will have a coupon of LIBOR + 7.75% and a 5-year maturity.

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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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Spectrum Pharmaceuticals is in focus

Spectrum highlights poziotinib data in lung cancer to be presented at IASLC

Spectrum highlights poziotinib data in lung cancer to be presented at IASLC. See Stockwinners.com for details

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI) announced the release of an abstract from a clinical study evaluating poziotinib in EGFR Exon 20 Mutant Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer by scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the sponsor of the trial.

This abstract contains limited data as of the submission deadline of June 21, 2017.

Additional data from their clinical experience and the ongoing Phase 2 study will be released in an oral presentation at the 18th International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer World Conference on Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan, October 15-18, 2017.

“Approximately 10% of EGFR mutant NSCLCs have an insertion/mutation in exon 20 of EGFR resulting in primary resistance to currently available tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

We previously reported that the structural features of poziotinib could potentially enable it to circumvent the steric hindrance induced by exon 20 mutations.

Here we further characterize the preclinical activity of poziotinib and report on initial clinical activity of poziotinib in patients EGFR exon 20 mutations from an ongoing phase II study.

To date, 8 platinum-refractory patients with EGFR exon 20 insertion mutation metastatic NSCLC have been enrolled in the clinical trial and treated with poziotinib at a dose of 16 mg PO daily.

Two patients have reached the first interval-imaging time point. Both patients exhibited dramatic partial response, with one patient reporting improvement in dyspnea and cough at one week of therapy. In this early stage of the study, one case of grade 3 paronchycia was observed.

One additional platinum- and erlotinib-refractory patient with EGFR exon 20 insertion was treated with poziotinib on compassionate basis. The patient achieved partial response after three weeks of treatment.

Conclusion

Poziotinib has selective activity against EGFR exon 20 mutations and potent activity in cell lines, PDX, and GEM models. Three platinum-refractory patients with EGFR exon 20 mutations have been treated thus far and are evaluable for response; all three had partial responses at the time of the initial scan.

Updated data from the ongoing phase 2 clinical trial of poziotinib will be presented at the meeting.”

SPPI closed at $10.97. Shares have a 52-weeks trading range of $3.21 to $11.05.


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Intercept issues statement

Intercept issues statement regarding Ocaliva safety, dosing in PBC patients

stockwinners.com ICPT

Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) provided comment on the Ocaliva Dear Healthcare Provider, or DHCP, letter issued on September 12, and the subsequent drug safety communication issued by the FDA on September 21.

Ocaliva was approved in the U.S. in May 2016 for the treatment of patients with primary biliary cholangitis, or PBC, with an inadequate response to, or intolerant of the standard of care, UDCA.

PBC is a rare and life-threatening progressive liver disease that primarily afflicts women and is a leading cause of liver failure with resulting need for liver transplant in women. #Ocaliva therefore represents an important treatment option for patients with PBC and since its approval more than 3,000 patients have been treated with Ocaliva in the U.S. alone.

More than 150 patients are enrolled in ongoing open label phases of Intercept’s Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials and have been on OCA treatment for periods ranging from approximately three to seven years.

Recommended dosing in the label for Ocaliva in earlier stage PBC patients with no or mild hepatic impairment starts at 5 mg once daily, increasing after three months to 10 mg once daily based on tolerability and treatment response.

However, in late stage patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment, recommended dosing starts at 5 mg once weekly, with the possibility to gradually increase to a maximum of 10 mg twice weekly. The reason for this less frequent dosing is that systemic and hepatic concentrations of Ocaliva are predicted to significantly increase in such patients and dose-related liver adverse reactions have previously been documented in PBC patients participating in clinical trials.

In the course of Intercept’s post-marketing pharmacovigilance activities, deaths have been reported in PBC patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment.

In an analysis performed by Intercept and in consultation with the #FDA, Intercept concluded that these patients were prescribed once daily doses of Ocaliva, which is seven times higher than the recommended weekly dose in such patients.

As a result, Intercept issued the #DHCP letter and the FDA subsequently issued their own safety communication to reinforce recommended label dosing.

Both communications remind healthcare providers of the importance of the recommended reduced dosing of Ocaliva in PBC patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment, while reiterating the importance of close monitoring of PBC patients for progression of their disease and the occurrence of liver-related adverse reactions.

ANALYST’S  COMMENTS

Credit Suisse analyst Alethia Young thinks Intercept’s stock reaction is overdone and general uncertainty is what continues to put pressure on the stock, after concerns associated with their lead asset, Ocaliva that is currently on the market for primary biliary cholangitis patients.

The analyst argues that shares are under pressure now due to lack of comment/clarity from management, and thinks shares will recover as management provides further discussion post safety letter, clarity is given around black box warning risk, and any relevant updates that ongoing NASH trial has been reviewed recently for safety imbalances. Young reiterates an Outperform rating and $201 price target on the shares.

PRICE  ACTION

ICPT has a 52-weeks trading range of $60.97 – $172.75. ICPT shares were trading around $105 when the company issued the DHCP letter. On Friday, shares closed at $61.50. In pre-market trading on Monday, shares traded at $66.22 or up $4.63 as shares get a dead-cat bounce.


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Novocure reports positive brain cancer data

Combination of Novocure Optune with Temozolomide demonstrates five-year survival

Novocure reports positive brain cancer data, See Stockwinners.com for details

Novocure (NVCR) announced today results from its phase 3 pivotal EF-14 trial adding Optune to temozolomide for the treatment of newly diagnosed #glioblastoma, or #GBM, including results from health-related quality of life analyses, were presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology‘s 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Glioblastoma is a type of brain cancer. It’s the most common type of malignant brain tumor among adults. And it is usually very aggressive, which means it can grow fast and spread quickly.

Novocure’s EF-14 phase 3 pivotal trial demonstrated “unprecedented” five-year survival results in newly diagnosed GBM.

Patients treated with Optune in combination with temozolomide experienced a significant extension of overall survival without added toxicity compared to patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The data also showed that Optune-treated patients were able to maintain quality of life for longer compared to patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The EF-14 data showed median overall survival was extended by nearly five months for patients who received Optune in combination with temozolomide versus patients who received temozolomide alone.

When measured annually for five consecutive years, patients treated with Optune in combination with temozolomide maintained superior rates of survival in newly diagnosed GBM versus patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The five-year survival rate was 13% for patients treated with Optune together with temozolomide versus five percent for patients treated with temozolomide alone.

The EF-14 data also showed that Optune with temozolomide did not negatively impact health-related quality of life, except for itchy skin.

The combination treatment of Optune with temozolomide improved deterioration-free survival of several predefined health-related quality of life scales, compared to treatment with temozolomide alone.

NVCR closed at $21.50. Shares have a 52-week trading range of $5.95 – $22.30.


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Loxo Oncology Jumps on Lung Cancer Data

Loxo Oncology says 292 data to be presented at upcoming lung cancer conference

Loxo Oncology to present at upcoming lung cancer conference. See Stockwinners.com for details

Loxo Oncology (LOXO) announced earlier that its investigators will present initial clinical data for LOXO-292 at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, or IASLC, World Conference on Lung Cancer to be held October 15-18.

The oral presentation will include case reports for two patients with RET fusion lung cancer, previously treated with multikinase inhibitors, who received LOXO-292, Loxo Oncology’s highly selective RET inhibitor in clinical development for the treatment of patients with cancers that harbor abnormalities in the rearranged during transfection kinase.

BACKGROUND

In June 2017Loxo Oncology said it will seek US Food and Drug Administration approval for larotrectinib as a treatment for patients with TRK fusion-positive tumors after three-quarters of participants in a combined analysis responded to the drug.  TRK fusions occur in between 1,500 and 5,000 cancer patients per year, comprising 1 to 3 percent of cancer cases.

Loxo has been in discussions with the FDA about the larotrectinib program for the past year and a half, and expects to submit the NDA later this year or early next year, with the potential for an FDA decision by mid-2018. As the only selective pan-TRK inhibitor currently in clinical development, larotrectinib could “potentially be the first novel targeted therapy that’s developed and eventually used in a tumor-agnostic manner,” said LOXO CEO in June.

LOXO 292

LOXO-292 is a potent, oral and selective investigational new drug in clinical development for the treatment of patients with cancers that harbor abnormalities in the rearranged during transfection (RET) kinase. RET fusions have been identified in approximately 2% of non-small cell lung cancer, 10-20% of papillary thyroid cancer, and a subset of colon and other cancers. RET point mutations account for approximately 60% of medullary thyroid cancer.

Both RET fusion and select RET mutated cancers are primarily dependent on this single activated kinase for their proliferation and survival. This dependency, often referred to as “oncogene addiction,” renders such tumors highly susceptible to small molecule inhibitors targeting RET. LOXO-292 was designed to inhibit native RET signaling as well as anticipated acquired resistance mechanisms that could otherwise limit the activity of this therapeutic approach. LOXO-292 is currently being studied in a Phase 1 trial.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday’s trading, Loxo shares have jumped $12.09, or 16%, to $87.20.


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Exelixis to Present Data on its Cancer Drugs

The European Society for Medical Oncology Congress will be held in Madrid, September 8 – 12, 2017.

 

Exelixis says to present data from cabozanitinib, cobimetinib at ESMO

 

 Exelixis says to present data from cabozanitinib, See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more

Exelixis (EXEL) says to present data from #cabozanitinib, cobimetinib at ESMO Exelixis announced that data from clinical trials of cabozantinib and cobimetinib will be the subject of 10 presentations at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2017 Congress in Madrid, September 8 – 12, 2017.

Progression-free survival by independent radiology review and updated overall survival results from CABOSUN, a randomized phase 2 clinical trial of cabozantinib compared with sunitinib in patients with previously untreated advanced renal cell carcinoma, will be presented as a late-breaking abstract in the Genitourinary Tumours, Non-Prostate poster discussion session on Sunday, September 10.

Final data from the phase 1 study of cabozantinib in combination with nivolumab with or without ipilimumab for the treatment of metastatic urothelial carcinoma and other genitourinary malignancies will be presented in the Genitourinary Tumours, Non-Prostate oral presentation session on Saturday, September 9.

Additionally, poster presentations will detail the evaluation of cabozantinib in RCC and advanced penile squamous cell carcinoma, and of cobimetinib in combination studies in metastatic #melanoma.

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FDA Issues Tobacco Regulations

FDA ‘providing targeted relief’ on some tobacco regulation timelines

FDA announces new 'comprehensive plan' for tobacco, nicotine regulation. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

As part of the plan, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products.

The agency intends to extend timelines to submit tobacco product review applications for newly regulated tobacco products that were on the market as of Aug. 8, 2016. This action will afford the agency time to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive.

The agency plans to issue this guidance describing a new enforcement policy shortly.

The approach places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts.

Under expected revised timelines, applications for newly-regulated combustible products, such as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco, would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2021, and applications for non-combustible products such as ENDS or e-cigarettes would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2022.

Additionally, the FDA expects that manufacturers would continue to market products while the agency reviews product applications.

WHAT’S NEW

The FDA announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to “better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.”

The approach shifts focus to nicotine and the issue of addiction as the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts. The aim, according to the agency, is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Commenting on the matter, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “Unless we change course, 5.6M young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”

TOBACCO STOCKS FALL

Publicly traded companies in the tobacco products space include Altria Group (MO), British American Tobacco (BTI), Philip Morris (PM) and Reynolds American (RAI). Altria Group is down 5% on the news.

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