) announced that it has regained worldwide rights to oncology
candidate, vintafolide, from
Merck & Co. Inc.
). Endocyte received the rights to vintafolide as Merck decided to
discontinue its investment in the development of vintafolide, after
an extensive assessment of Merck's portfolio.
We note that vintafolide is in a phase IIb study (TARGET) for the
treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Detailed data from
this study is expected in late 2014.
We remind investors that in Apr 2012, Merck had acquired the rights
for the development and commercialization of vintafolide for six
separate cancer indications.
Merck's decision to discontinue the development of vintafolide does
not come as a surprise considering the recent vintafolide-related
In May 2014, as recommended by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board
(DSMB), Endocyte and Merck had stopped patient enrollment in a
phase III study (PROCEED) on vintafolide for the treatment of
platinum resistant ovarian cancer (PROC) and withdrew their
conditional marketing authorization applications in the EU for
vintafolide and companion imaging components.
Endocyte shares were down in
on the news regarding the termination of the Merck partnership.
Currently, we have low visibility regarding the future of
vintafolide. The market for NSCLC is becoming increasingly
competitive. Currently approved drugs for the treatment of NSCLC
include Xalkori and Alimta.
) veliparib is in phase III studies for the same indication.
Endocyte holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the
biotech sector is
ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
), carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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