Health Care Sector Update for 03/13/2018: ABBV,NBIX,EPZM,BLCM,MRK

Top Health Care Stocks

JNJ +1.41%

PFE +0.29%

ABT -0.72%

MRK -0.24%

AMGN +0.16%

Health care stocks still were ending on positive ground Tuesday, with the NYSE Health Care Index hanging on to a nearly 0.1% gain in recent trade. Also today, shares of health care companies in the S&P 500 were up a little more than 0.1% as a group while the Nasdaq Biotechnology index was losing nearly 0.8% in recent trade.

Among health care stocks moving on news:

+ AbbVie ( ABBV ) was higher in late Tuesday trading, climbing almost 3% to a session high of $121.45 a share, after the biopharmaceuticals company, together with Neurocrine Biosciences ( NBIX ), said its elagolix drug candidate met its primary endpoint during the second of two Phase III clinical trials, reducing heavy menstrual bleeding in 76.2% of women with uterine fibroids six months after treatment. The study also met all of its secondary endpoints, the company said, adding the results were consistent with the other late-stage study of elagolix announced in February. Uterine fibroids are the most common type of abnormal growth in women's pelvis, affecting up to 80% of all women by their 50th birthday.

In other sector news:

+ Bellicum Pharmaceuticals ( BLCM ) still was hanging on to a moderate gain Tuesday afternoon, falling back from a more than 8% rise earlier in the session that followed itr releasing interim clinical data showing its BPX-501 T cells appear to contribute to a durable anti-leukemic effect in older patients with acute myeloid leukemia. BPX-501 is an adjunct T cell therapy incorporating CaspaCIDe administered after haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplant (haplo-HSCT) for the treatment of hematologic cancers and inherited blood diseases. The study enrolled 38 pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia who received haplo-HSCT followed by treatment with BPX-501. One year after their treatments, 91.5% of the patients were demonstrating relapse-free survival and an overall survival rate of 97.3% per share compared with previously reported one-year survival rates in luekemia patients undergoing alternate-donor HSCT between 60% to 80%.

- Merck ( MRK ) was edging lower Tuesday afternoon, giving back a nearly 1% gain earlier that followed the company saying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted a priority review for its Keytruda oncology drug as a potential treatment for cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy. The agency is scheduled to issue its decision on the added indication by June 28.

- Epizyme ( EPZM ) was lower Tuesday afternoon, reversing a nearly 2% advance to a 33-month high of $21.40 a share, that followed the oncology drugmaker reporting a smaller Q4 net loss than Wall Street was expecting. Net loss was $0.52 per share during the three months ended Dec. 31, improving on a $0.60 per share net loss during the same quarter in 2016 and beating the Capital IQ consensus by $0.05 per share. Epizyme had no revenue during the quarter, as expected. The company expects its existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities on Dec. 31 will fund its planned operational costs into the July-to-September period in 2019.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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