Healthcare Review: Echo Therapeutics, NanoString Technologies, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, CytRx Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:49
Wall Street fell modestly on Wednesday as investors weighed the possibility of a wind-down of U.S. Federal Reserve stimulus in the wake of a provisional budget deal reached in Washington. The agreement, reached late Tuesday, would end three years of impasse and fiscal instability in Washington that culminated in October with a partial government shutdown. While the deal removes a key uncertainty hanging over markets, some say it strengthens expectations that the U.S. central bank may soon scale back its $85 billion-a-month stimulus that has fueled a stock market rally this year.

After rallying 8% Tuesday, shares of Echo Therapeutics ($ECTE) are up some 26%.The company has inked a licensing, development, and commercialization agreement with Medical Technologies Innovation Asia for the manufacture and distribution of the Symphony CGM System in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Medical Technologies Innovation will take on the development, marketing, and manufacturing costs for the Chinese market, and will also be responsible for "obtaining regulatory approval for the product in the licensed territories."

NanoString Technologies ($NSTG) is enjoying a strong session after announcing that the Prosigna Breast Cancer Prognostic Gene Signature Assay will be available nationwide in Q1 2014.LH and DGX have "chosen to add the Prosigna Assay to their comprehensive suites of breast cancer diagnostic tests," NSTG notes. (PR) Meanwhile, Baird is out with an upgrade to Outperform from Neutral. Price target is now $18 (from $12).

Summer Street is out positive on Avanir Pharmaceuticals ($AVNR) as the shares sell-off on a Phase 2 miss for AVP-923 in central neuropathic pain. "Once the trial enrollment was cut in half we did not think the trial was powered for statistical significance," analyst Carol Werther says, adding that "a neuropathic pain indication cannot be ruled out when positive Phase 3 results have been published in patients with type 2 diabetes." Werther is also upbeat on Nuedexta. Buy rating maintained. Price target cut to $10 from $17.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals ($SPPI) is up 5%.Out Wednesday morning are what the company calls "encouraging" data from Marqibo and Folotyn studies. Results from a Phase 2 study suggest Marqibo could have utility in the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma" (front-line). Summary: Marqibo substituted for Vincristin in R-CHOP; ORR, 95%; CRR, 90%; 10-year PFS, 64%; 10-year OS, 87%.As for Folotyn, data suggest the drug "may provide benefit to patients with early stage peripheral T-cell lymphoma."

CytRx ($CYTR) is out with top-line results from a Phase 2b study of aldoxorubicin in first-line metastatic, locally advanced or unresectable STSs. Summary (intent-to-treat analysis): Median PFS for aldoxorubicin, 8.4 months; median PFS for doxorubicin, 4.7 months. Summary (blinded central lab review): Median PFS for aldoxorubicin, 5.7 months; median PFS for doxorubicin, 2.8 months. OR rate: 25.4% for aldoxorubicin, 5.4% for doxorubicin. "These results are extraordinary for a single agent treating these chemotherapy-resistant tumors," the study's principal investigator says.

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