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Pipeline Update at Nektar

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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) provided an update on its pipeline at its Investor Day Conference call. Multiple pipeline related events are lined up at Nektar over the next few years.

The company currently has five such programs that have either been completed or are in phase III studies.

At the conference call Nektar’s primary focus was on chronic pain candidate NKTR-181. Nektar plans to advance NKTR-181 in phase III studies by mid-2014. In phase II the candidate was studied for the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic pain in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Although the candidate failed to meet the primary objectives of the phase II study the company is confident that the results will help them to design a good phase III program.
Although patients treated with NKTR-181 showed a reduction in pain scores throughout the randomized phase of the study, patients under placebo failed to show the expected increase in pain scores observed in enriched enrollment, randomized withdrawal studies of a similar nature. The company noted that the lack of a placebo rebound was unusual. As a result, the study failed to meet its primary objective.

Apart from NKTR-181, Nektar touched upon other candidates like naloxegol, Baxter 855, NKTR-192, NKTR-102 and NKTR-171 at the conference call. Nektar has a partnership agreement with AstraZeneca (AZN) for naloxegol, which is being developed for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation (OIC). The candidate has already been filed in the U.S. and EU for the OIC indication.

Nektar is also gearing up to file for Baxter 855 (Hemophilia A), partnered with Baxter International Inc. (BAX). Nektar expects the candidate to be approved by 2016. The company expects to report phase III data on NKTR-102 (metastatic breast cancer) and NKTR-192 (acute pain) in late 2014 or early 2015.

We expect investor focus to remain on Nektar’s pipeline going forward.

Nektar, a biopharmaceutical company, presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other biopharma stocks such as Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF) currently look attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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