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Merrimack Progresses With MM-398

Zacks Equity Research

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MACK) recently reached the patient enrollment target in the NAPOLI-1 study being conducted on its oncology candidate, MM-398.

MM-398 is currently in phase III development for the second-line treatment of pancreatic cancer patients, whose disease has progressed after being treated with Eli Lilly and Company’s (LLY) Gemzar (gemcitabine).

MM-398 was granted orphan drug designation by the European Medicines Agency (:EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) in 2011, for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. MM-398 is being evaluated in several phase I and phase II studies for other types of cancer as well.

Merrimack has an assignment, sublicense and collaboration agreement with PharmaEngine, Inc. Under the agreement, Merrimack reacquired the rights to MM-398 in Europe and certain other countries. Merrimack made an upfront payment of $10 million to PharmaEngine and will be making milestone payments.

Merrimack also has a license and collaboration agreement with Sanofi (SNY) for the development of another oncology candidate, MM-121. MM-121 is being evaluated for multiple cancer indications including breast cancer (phase II).

We note that Merrimack has another oncology candidate, MM-111, in its pipeline. Last month, the company advanced MM-111 into phase II development for the treatment of advanced gastric, esophageal and gastroesophageal junction (:GEJ) cancers.

Other early-stage pipeline candidates at Merrimack include MM-302, MM-151 and MM-141. MM-302 is being developed for the treatment of breast cancer, while MM-151 and MM-141 are being developed for the treatment of solid tumors.

Merrimack currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). At present, companies like Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) look well-positioned with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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