Sector Update: Healthcare

Healthcare stocks are broadly lower, with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index declining 1.1% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 falling 1.2% as a group.

In company news, CytRx Corp ( CYTR ) has advanced as much as 83% to $4.38 a share, reaching its best price since September 2012 after the research and development company released encouraging results from a Phase IIb trial comparing its aldoxorubicin drug candidate with doxorubicin, a widely used chemotherapeutic agent, as a first-line treatment for advanced soft tissue sarcomas.

Shares were last up 63.8% at $3.92 each, with the study finding aldoxorubicin was safe and well tolerated, with both an investigator assessment and a central lab review showing an unambiguous improvement of 80% to 100% in progression-free survival among patients treated with aldoxorubicin.

Aldoxorubicin combines doxorubicin with a linker-molecule that binds specifically to albumin in the blood, allowing for delivery of higher amounts of doxorubicin without the dose-limiting toxicities when doxorubicin is used alone.

The overall response rate was 25.4% for aldoxorubicin subjects compared with 5.4% for the doxorubicin subjects, as determined by the investigators. The blinded central lab review showed 23.0% of aldoxorubicin subjects had a partial response while none of the doxorubicin subjects exhibited any objective response.

The company previously completed Phase Ib testing of aldoxorubicin in soft-tissue sarcomas as well as in patients with advanced solid tumors. It also has begun Phase II trials of the drug in patients with late-stage brain cancer and also is planning for a mid-stage trial in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma.

In other sector news,

(+) ECTE, (+14.7%) Starts 10-year strategic partnership with Medical Technologies Innovation Asia, which gains commercial rights to ECTE's Symphony CGM System in China in exchange to paying all development, manufacturing and marketing costs.

(-) AVNR, (-23.6%) Said its AVP-923 investigational drug did not meet primary efficacy endpoint during Phase II testing to treat central neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis. Also reports Q3 earnings and revenue matching analyst estimates.

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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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