Encouraging Data on Eli Lilly's Necitumumab - Analyst Blog
Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced encouraging results on its lung cancer candidate necitumumab from a phase III study (SQUIRE: n=1,093). Eli Lilly evaluated the candidate as a first-line combination therapy in patients (aged>= 18) suffering from stage IV squamous non-small cell lung cancer in the phase III study, the largest ever conducted in the indication.
Results from the study revealed statistically significant improvement in overall survival in patients treated with a combination of necitumumab, oncology drug Gemzar (gemcitabine) and chemotherapy treatment cisplatin compared to those subjected to only chemotherapy treatment, thus meeting the primary end point of the study. Common adverse events included rash and hypomagnesemia. Eli Lilly will present additional safety and efficacy data on the candidate from the study at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The company expects to file for approval by the end of 2014.
The company has full global development and commercialization rights to necitumumab. Earlier, Eli Lilly had a collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) for necitumumab in North America and Japan. However, Bristol-Myers terminated the collaboration in late 2012.
We believe Eli Lilly's pipeline must deliver to counter its dwindling revenues due to genericization of key products like Zyprexa, Cymbalta and Evista. We are also pleased to see Lilly pursuing small acquisitions and in-licensing deals to boost its pipeline.
The approval of necitumumab would be a major positive for Eli Lilly. In its press release, Eli Lilly mentioned that non-small cell lung cancer accounts for 85% of all lung cancer cases. About 30% of these patients suffer from squamous cell cancer. We are encouraged by Eli Lilly's decision to acquire Novartis' (NYSE: NVS) animal health business to strengthen its Animal Health division. .
Eli Lilly, a large cap pharma stock, carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Allergan (NYSE: AGN) is an example of a better-ranked stock in the large cap pharma space with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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