Healthcare Review: Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Pozen, GlaxoSmithKline, Celgene, Agenus Print
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 05 September 2013 20:09

U.S. stocks rose modestly on Thursday, putting equities on track for a third straight day of gains to start the month, as a flurry of economic data pointed to improving economic conditions.

Gains were limited as many investors were hesitant to make big bets going into Friday's payroll report, while the possibility of a Western-led strike against Syria also loomed. While the economic data was positive, it did little to change investor expectations about when the U.S. Federal Reserve might begin to ease its accommodative monetary policies, credited with fueling the equity market's gains in 2013.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals (RIGL) says it's narrowing its focus to three of its lead clinical programs, a decision that includes the elimination of about 18% of its work force. It plans to commence a Phase III study of fostamtinib, a treatment for immune thrombocytopnic purpura - which is a blood disorder that mostly affects women. It's discontinuing development of fostamatinib for rheumatoid arthritis or lymphoma, citing disappointing results in recent studies and strong competition in those areas. The company also anticipates moving ahead on either its treatment for discoid lupus erythematosus, an autoimune skin disease, or its treatment for dry eye.

Shares of Pozen (POZN) post double-digit gains. The company announced a partnership with Sanofi (SNY) yesterday for the commercialization of PA8140 and PA32540 (safer aspirin).  SA contributor and Zacks analyst Jason Napodano sees PA as a "$500M product worldwide" and based on the disclosed terms of the deal, Napodano says the shares may be worth $9 each.

Shares of Agenus (AGEN) collapse after GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.9%) says the MAGE A-3 cancer vaccine missed one of its primary endpoints in a Phase 3 melanoma trial. MAGE A-3 uses AGEN's QS-21 as an adjuvant.  Shareholders will now look to MAGRIT data (the non-small cell lung cancer trial for MAGE-A3) due in H1 2014.

GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) experimental cancer vaccine MAGE-A3 misses one of its primary endpoints in a Phase 3 melanoma trial. The antigen-specific cancer immunotherapeutic did not significantly extend disease-free survival compared to placebo. The company says it remains "committed to identifying a patient sub-population who may benefit from this investigational treatment."

Celgene (CELG) announces the publication of Phase 3 data from MM-003.The results show oral pomalidomide plus low-dose dexamethasone demonstrated significant PFS improvement compared to high-dose dexamethasone in patients with refractory or relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have failed at least two prior therapies with both bortezomib and lenalidomide.

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