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MRK

Merck

$72.34

0.12 (0.17%)

12:52
10/21/18
10/21
12:52
10/21/18
12:52

Merck presents early data for STING agonist in advanced solid tumors/lymphomas

Merck announced the first presentation of preliminary data from a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating MK-1454, an investigational STING agonist, as monotherapy and in combination with Keytruda, Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy, in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphomas. MK-1454 is one of more than 20 novel investigational immuno-therapeutic candidates Merck is evaluating as part of its broad oncology pipeline. In this Phase 1, open-label, multi-arm, multicenter, dose-escalation clinical trial, MK-1454 was administered to patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphomas by intratumoral injection every week for nine weeks for three cycles then every three weeks thereafter. Dose escalations for MK-1454 were 10-3,000 microg and 90-2,000 microg using accelerated titration followed by modified toxicity probability interval design. Keytruda was administered as an intravenous injection at a dose of 200 mg every three weeks. Patients receiving MK-1454 as monotherapy who progressed while on therapy were eligible for crossover to the MK-1454-Keytruda combination arm. Study objectives included evaluation of safety, tolerability, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and tumor responses evaluated using RECIST v1.1 criteria. Interim data presented at ESMO were based on findings from 26 patients enrolled in the MK-1454 monotherapy arm and 25 patients enrolled in the combination arm with Keytruda, plus 9 patients who crossed over from monotherapy to receive the combination regimen. In the monotherapy arm, no complete or partial responses were observed. In the combination arm, partial responses were observed in 24% of patients, with median reductions of 83% in the size of both target-injected and non-injected tumors. At the time of analysis, all of the partial responses were ongoing and had lasted six months or longer. None of the responders had previously received a PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor therapy. The disease control rates were 20% and 48% for the monotherapy and combination arms, respectively. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 82.6% and 82.1% of patients in monotherapy and combination arms, respectively. TRAEs resulting in trial discontinuation occurred in 7.1% of patients in the combination arm. No TRAE discontinuations were recorded in patients in the monotherapy arm.

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MRK Merck
$72.34

0.12 (0.17%)

10/11/18
FBCO
10/11/18
NO CHANGE
Target $81
FBCO
Outperform
Merck price target raised to $81 from $71 at Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan raised his price target for Merck to $81 from $71, while reiterating an Outperform rating on the shares. While the shares have had a significant move this year, the analyst sees room for additional upside as the company continues to roll out Keytruda, most notably in the 1st line non-small cell lung setting. However, Divan also acknowledges longer-term investors remain concerned about how the company will navigate the Januvia patent expiration in mid-2022.
10/16/18
BTIG
10/16/18
INITIATION
Target $82
BTIG
Buy
Esperion initiated with a Buy at BTIG
BTIG analyst Thomas Shrader initiated Esperion (ESPR) with a Buy rating and a price target of $82, saying that with its development of bempedoic acid, or BA, to reduce cholesterol, the next key question is about the drug's safety. The analyst notes that while the data from Study 1 in May were disappointing, Study 2 readout in the next few weeks should have more answers. Shrader adds that the introduction of "non-stain" into the cholesterol market has already worked for Merck's (MRK) Zetia, and if BA is perceived well on its safety profile, it is "highly supportive" of its investment story.
10/16/18
SBSH
10/16/18
NO CHANGE
Target $79
SBSH
Buy
Merck price target raised to $79 from $70 at Citi
Citi analyst Andrew Baum raised his price target for Merck (MRK) to $79 and reiterates a Buy rating on the shares. Following upward revisions to his Lynparza expectations, the analyst raised his earnings forecasts for Merck by 1%-9% over the 2021 to 2025 timeframe. The analyst anticipates that positive Lynparza first-line ovarian cancer trial will make Lynparza standard of care in wild type first-line ovarian cancer patients and leaving it well positioned to take market share in immuno-oncology based combinations post 2021. Baum also raised his price target for AstraZeneca (AZN), Merck's partner on Lynparza, to GBP 70 from GBP 62. He also has a Buy rating on those shares.
10/16/18
WELS
10/16/18
NO CHANGE
WELS
Drug price in ads not impactful, may cause confusion, says Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo analyst David Maris acknowledges that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' proposal to include drug prices in advertisements has a "noble goal" of making drugs more affordable and keeping patients well informed. However, given how different list prices are relative to out of pocket costs, "one must ask if this is increasing transparency or likely going to lead to more confusion," he contends. The analyst also believes that the unintended consequence could be worse care, while noting that the drug price information will likely fall into the category of the side effect information in drug ads currently, tuned out by many and will have no material impact. While he supports the idea of increased transparency, Maris wonders whether the potential benefit is not outweighed by the potential negative for the most vulnerable. Publicly traded companies in the space include AstraZeneca (AZN), Bristol-Myers (BMY), Eli Lilly (LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK), Novartis (NVS), Pfizer (PFE), Roche (RHHBY) and Sanofi (SNY).

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$NSD

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