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Sector Update: Healthcare Stocks Mixed; MEI Pharma Climbing After New Leukemia Drug Produces Strong Response in Early Testing

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JNJ +0.35%

PFE +0.32%

ABT +0.31%

MRK +0.20%

AMGN +0.17%

Healthcare stocks were mixed, with the NYSE Healthcare Sector Index rising about 0.1% and shares of healthcare companies in the S&P 500 retreating about 0.2% as a group.

In company news, MEI Pharma ( MEIP ) shares jumped Tuesday after the oncology drug-maker released encouraging data from mid-stage testing of a prospective treatment for myeloid leukemia.

MEIP shares were up 14% at $7.00 each in recent trade, earlier advancing to a session high of $7.24 a share. The stock has a 52-week range of $5.53 to $13.98, declining almost 14% over the past 12 months.

According to the company, two of the first nine elderly patients with newly diagnosed blood cancer achieved a complete response during the first stage of a two-stage Phase II trial of its azacitidine drug candidate in patients who are unsuitable for intensive chemotherapy. One other patient also had a complete response with incomplete blood count recovery.

Another three patients had partial responses or a partial response with incomplete blood count recovery after their initial or second treatment evaluation, for an overall response rate of 67%.

In other sector news,

(+) ACHN, (+58.1%) FDA lifts clinical hold on sovaprevir, allowing the drug-maker to conduct trials on the prospective hepatitis C treatment. The drug was well-tolerated during two previous Phase II trials, ACHN said.

(-) VRX, (-1.7%) Allergan ( AGN ) again rejects sweetened, $53 bln buyout offer, with Valient and Pershing Square Management raising their bid another 15% to $72 a share in cash and 0.83 of a VRX share - or $177.10 a share, overall.

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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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