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Eli Lilly Up on Positive Ramucirumab Data

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Eli Lilly and Company’s (LLY) shares were up 5.14% after the company announced encouraging data from a phase III study on its oncology candidate, ramucirumab.

The worldwide, randomized, double-blind REVEL study compared the use of ramucirumab in combination with Sanofi’s (SNY) Taxotere (docetaxel) to Taxotere plus placebo in second-line non-small cell lung cancer (:NSCLC) patients.

Data from the study, revealed a statistically significant improvement in overall survival (primary endpoint of the study) and progression-free survival in the ramucirumab plus Taxotere arm versus the Taxotere and placebo arm. The company plans to submit regulatory applications for ramucirumab based on data from the REVEL study in 2014.

Eli Lilly is also evaluating ramucirumab for other types of cancer including gastric, hepatocellular (liver) and colorectal cancer. The company is looking to get ramucirumab approved as a monotherapy in gastric cancer in the U.S. and the EU.  Eli Lilly intends to file for approval of the ramucirumab and paclitaxel combination for patients suffering from gastric cancer in 2014. Meanwhile, top-line data from phase III studies evaluating the candidate for hepatocellular and colorectal cancer are expected in 2014.

We remind investors that Eli Lilly gained the rights to ramucirumab through the acquisition of ImClone Systems in 2008.

Our Take

We are pleased with the positive data from the REVEL study on ramucirumab. We believe that ramucirumab possess blockbuster potential and if approved will provide a must needed boost to Eli Lilly’s revenues. Revenues of two key products, Cymbalta (already lost exclusivity in the U.S.) and Evista (Mar 2014), are expected to decline significantly this year due to generic competition.

Eli Lilly is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. Some better-ranked stocks include Forest Laboratories (FRX) and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (AUXL). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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