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Pfizer's Ibrance in First-Line Combo Breast Cancer Study

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Pfizer, Inc. PFE and six international cancer research groups are collaborating on a combination study to explore the use of Ibrance for first-line treatment of advanced breast cancer.

The PATINA phase III study will evaluate Ibrance, a CDK 4/6 inhibitor, in combination with anti-HER2 therapy and endocrine therapy versus standard therapy for the first-line treatment of HR+, HER2+ metastatic breast cancer. The first patient in the study was randomized last month.  About 500 patients are expected to be recruited worldwide in the study.

Ibrance is presently marketed for the treatment of HR+, HER2- disease in combination with an aromatase inhibitor as initial endocrine-based therapy in postmenopausal women, or AstraZeneca plc’s AZN Faslodex (fulvestrant) in women whose disease has progressed following endocrine therapy. The drug is presently not approved for use in the HR+, HER2+ patient population.

Pfizer’s shares have underperformed the industry this year so far. Pfizer’s shares are up 5.1% during this period comparing unfavorably with an increase of 6.4% for the industry.

Ibrance plays an instrumental role in driving Pfizer’s revenues. The drug recorded sales of $1.53 billion in the first half of 2017, up 63% year over year.  Pfizer is also exploring the possibility of expanding the label of its breast cancer drug, Ibrance, into recurrent and subsequent early breast cancer as well as several non-breast cancer indications like pancreatic and head and neck cancers.

Meanwhile, Pfizer boasts a strong oncology pipeline. Its key cancer candidate, Bavencio/avelumab got FDA approval for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) in Mar 2017 and for advanced bladder cancer in May. Bavencio is under review in the EU for MCC with a decision expected in the third quarter of 2017. Bavencio is being touted as a significant top-line driver for this New York-based pharma giant. Another cancer drug, Besponsa (inotuzumab ozogamicin) received FDA approval earlier this month as a monotherapy for the treatment of relapsed or refractory CD22-positive B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The drug was approved in the EU last month.

Meanwhile, other cancer candidates include talazoparib (advanced breast cancer) and dacomitinib (advanced lung cancer with EGFR activating mutations).

At the Q1 conference call, Pfizer had mentioned that approximately 25 to 30 drug approvals are expected over the next five years, including around 15 products that have blockbuster potential.

Pfizer carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked pharma/biotech stocks include Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN. While Regeneron sports a Zacks Rank #1, Gilead has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Regeneron’s shares up 30.4% this year so far. Estimates have risen 15.2% for 2017 while that for 2018 have gone up by 6.8% over the past 30 days.

Shares of Gilead have risen 4% so far this year while estimates for 2017 and 2018 have risen almost 7% and 0.9%, respectively, over the past 30 days.

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