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Merrimack Crashes as Phase II Pancreatic Cancer Study Fails

Zacks Equity Research

Shares of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. MACK crashed 43.8%, after the company reported disappointing results from the phase II study in front-line metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The phase II trial, CARRIE, evaluated the addition of MM-141 to standard-of-care treatment in patients with previously untreated metastatic pancreatic cancer and high serum levels of free Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). 

The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival, while secondary endpoints included objective response rate, disease control rate, duration of response, and overall survival and safety.

Merrimack reported that the study did not meet its primary or secondary efficacy endpoints in patients, who received MM-141 in combination with nab-paclitaxel and Gemzar, compared to nab-paclitaxel and Gemzar alone.

Subsequently, Merrimack has terminated the development of MM-141.


With the sale of Onivyde, the company was back to being a development-stage biopharmaceutical company and was banking on its three pipeline candidates to boost growth prospects.

Hence, the failure of the CARRIE study came as a huge disappointment for the investors, given the limited number of candidates in the pipeline. Consequently, the company now plans to focus on the other two candidates in its pipeline, MM-121 and MM-310.

Shares of Merrimack have also underperformed the industry so far this year. The stock has plunged 49.9%, while the industry declined 6.9%.


MM-121 (seribantumab) is a monoclonal antibody, targeting the HER3 (ErbB3) receptor. The candidate is being evaluated in combination with standard-of-care treatment in two randomized phase II studies, namely SHERLOC (in patients with non-small cell lung cancer), and SHERBOC (in patients with metastatic breast cancer in combination with AstraZeneca’s AZN Faslodex). Enrollment is ongoing in both the studies and top-line results from the SHERLOC study are expected in the second half of 2018.  

MM-310, an antibody-directed nanotherapeutic targeting the EphA2 receptor, is currently being evaluated in a phase I study in solid tumors. Data on safety and maximum tolerated dose is expected in the second half of 2018.

We expect investors to focus on data readouts from studies conducted on these candidates.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Merrimack currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks from the same space are Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. AGLE and ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP. Both stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Aeglea’s loss per share estimates have narrowed from $1.93 to $1.67 for 2018 and from $3.86 to $3.57 for 2019, over the past 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 19.32%. The stock has rallied 96.3%, so far this year.

ANI Pharmaceuticals’ earnings per share estimates have moved up from $5.54 to $5.70 for 2018 and from $5.72 to $6.15 for 2019, over the past 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 8.69%. The stock has rallied 5.4%, so far this year.

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