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OncoGenex Down on Failure of Pancreatic Cancer Study

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OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.OGXI announced disappointing initial results from a phase II study (Rainier) on apatorsen in combination with Celgene Corporation's CELG Abraxane and Eli Lilly and Company's LLY Gemzar compared to Abraxane plus Gemzar alone for the treatment of patients suffering from untreated metastatic pancreatic cancer. The company's shares fell 14.4%, reflecting investors' reaction to the news.

The study showed that the combination of apatorsen, Abraxane and Gemzar did not show a survival benefit compared to Abraxane plus Gemzar alone.

Moreover, there was an increase in grade 4 or higher adverse events and serious adverse events in the study while the common grade 3/4 treatment-related toxicities and other adverse events in the apatorsen arm were similar to those observed in previous studies. Unfortunately, a larger number of patients discontinued their treatment in the apatorsen arm due to the incidence of adverse events, compared to those who discontinued due to disease progression.

We note that OncoGenex is evaluating apatorsen for several indications under a broad program - ORCA (Ongoing Studies Evaluating Treatment Resistance in CAncer). Apart from the Rainier study, ongoing studies under the ORCA program include Borealis-2 (advanced or metastatic bladder cancer in patients whose disease progressed following first-line platinum-based chemotherapy), Spruce (previously untreated advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)), Cedar (previously untreated advanced squamous NSCLC) and Pacific (castration-resistant prostate cancer in patients experiencing a rising prostate specific antigen under treatment with Zytiga). All these studies are in phase II. Primary progression-free survival data from the Spruce study is expected in the first half of 2016.

OncoGenex said that it will continue developing apatorsen in the other studies under the ORCA program.

According to the press release issued by OncoGenex, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and affects approximately 338,000 patients every year across the world. There is a wide opportunity for bringing new therapies to the market for the treatment of this disease. We believe that failure of the Rainier study is a big setback for OncoGenex. Had it been successfully developed and approved, apatorsen might have served a large share of the market.

Some drugs already approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer include Afinitor and Sutent. Both are used to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor that has progressed and cannot be treated with surgery, apart from other indications.

OncoGenex carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). A better-ranked stock in the health care sector is Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated CORT , carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Lilly carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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LILLY ELI & CO (LLY): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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.


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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