), which is working on strengthening its pipeline and bringing
new products to market, is partnering
) for the evaluation of its experimental cancer drug, MK-3475 in
combination with Glaxo's Votrient (pazopanib).
While MK-3475 is an anti-PD-1 immunotherapy, Votrient is an
orally administered kinase inhibitor. The phase I/II study will
evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination in treatment
naïve patients suffering from advanced renal cell cancer.
Additional details regarding the deal were not provided.
While Votrient is already approved for the treatment of
patients with advanced renal cell cancer, MK-3475 is being
studied across a wide range of cancers like bladder, colorectal,
gastric, head and neck, melanoma, non-small cell lung, triple
negative breast, pancreatic, hematological malignancies and renal
cell cancer. Merck has plans to conduct additional studies on
MK-3475 as a monotherapy as well as in combination with other
Merck currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Merck has
entered a challenging period with erstwhile blockbuster drug,
Singulair, losing exclusivity in the U.S. in early Aug 2012 and
in the EU in Feb 2013. Moreover, we remain concerned about
Other headwinds remain in the form of unfavorable currency
movement and pipeline setbacks. We believe Merck will look
towards cost-cutting initiatives and share buybacks to drive the
Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include
Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc.
). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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