Merck & Co Inc.NYSE
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  • Tue, Dec. 6, 11:12 AM
    • Results from two clinical trials assessing Merck's (MRK -0.5%) PD-1 inhibitor KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in patients with relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) showed response rates well over 50%. The data were presented at the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in San Diego.
    • In Phase 2 KEYNOTE-087, the overall response rate (ORR) was 69% (n=145/210) with a complete remission rate (CRR) of 22% (n=47/210).
    • In Phase 1b KEYNOTE-013, the ORR in the cHL cohort was 58% (n=18/31) with a CRR of 19% (n=6/31).
    • KEYTRUDA's safety profile was consistent with earlier studies.
    | Tue, Dec. 6, 11:12 AM | 2 Comments
  • Mon, Dec. 5, 12:36 PM
    • A Merck (MRK -0.9%) subsidiary selects for development an anti-CD27 monoclonal antibody developed by Aduro Biotech's (ADRO +4.6%) European unit Aduro Biotech Europe B.V. (formerly BioNovion B.V.).
    • Aduro Biotech Europe COO Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D., says, "Preclinical studies have shown that an anti-CD27 agonist can induce a T cell-mediated anti-cancer immune response and, in combination with PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors, complete tumor eradication can be achieved."
    • Prior to being acquired by Aduro, BioNovion entered into a global license agreement with Merck in 2014 covering development and commercialization.
    | Mon, Dec. 5, 12:36 PM
  • Mon, Dec. 5, 12:16 PM
    • Results from a Phase 1b study, KEYNOTE-013, showed Merck's (MRK -0.8%) top cancer med KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) produced an overall response rate (ORR) of 41% (n=7/17) in patients with relapsed/refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that arises in the thymus. The data were presented at the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in San Diego.
    • The complete remission rate was 12% (n=2/17) while 81% (n=13/16) experienced a reduction in target lesions. The median duration of follow-up was 11 months. The median duration of response has yet to be reached.
    • According to, the estimated primary completion date of the study is next month. The estimated study completion date is June 2018.
    | Mon, Dec. 5, 12:16 PM | 1 Comment
  • Sat, Dec. 3, 9:03 AM
    • Rather than chase surging stocks at fancy valuations, the team at Barron's looked for laggards when making its picks, writes Andrew Bary.
    • The names, nevertheless, aren't exactly unfamiliar ones: Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), Novartis (NYSE:NVS), Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL), Unilever (NYSE:UL), Disney (NYSE:DIS).
    • Eight of these ten are trailing the S&P 500 this year, including the three European stocks (Deutsche Telekom, Novartis, and Unilever), and all of the names except Google sell for less than 20x 2017 estimates.
    • At just 10x earnings, Toll Brothers, Citi, and Delta are better ways to play an improving economy than Caterpillar at nearly 30x.
    • As for the "pricey" Google, it's an example of the Buffett maxim that he'd rather buy a wonderful business at a fair price rather than a fair business at a wonderful price.
    • Barron's top picks for 2016 as a group are trailing the S&P 500 by more than 600 basis points.
    | Sat, Dec. 3, 9:03 AM | 67 Comments
  • Thu, Dec. 1, 11:46 AM
    • November monthly performance was: +2.44%
    • AUM of $1.26B
    • 52-week performance vs. the S&P 500 is: +6%
    • $0.18 in dividends were paid in November
    • Top 10 Holdings as of 10/31/2016: Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM): 5.06236%, AT&T Inc (T): 5.00966%, Verizon Communications Inc (VZ): 3.95123%, Chevron Corp (CVX): 3.90836%, General Electric Co (GE): 3.34327%, Procter & Gamble Co (PG): 3.22338%, Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT): 2.96781%, Philip Morris International Inc (PM): 2.82773%, Pfizer Inc (PFE): 2.73807%, Merck & Co Inc (MRK): 2.31749%
    | Thu, Dec. 1, 11:46 AM
  • Thu, Dec. 1, 8:46 AM
    • November monthly performance was: +5.59%
    • AUM of $13.4B
    • 52-week performance vs. the S&P 500 is: 0%
    • No dividends were paid in November
    • Top 10 Holdings as of 9/30/2016: JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM): 3.11216%, Citigroup Inc (C): 2.91346%, US Treasury Note 1.125%, US Treasury Note 0.5%, Bank of America Corporation (BAC): 2.04729%, Morgan Stanley (MS): 1.65388%, Apache Corp (APA): 1.61818%, Merck & Co Inc (MRK): 1.45989%, US Treasury Note 0.75%, Devon Energy Corp (DVN): 1.39074%
    | Thu, Dec. 1, 8:46 AM
  • Mon, Nov. 28, 7:33 AM
    • The FDA grants Priority Review of Merck's (NYSE:MRK) supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) seeking approval of the use of KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) for treatment-experienced patients with advanced microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) cancer. The agency's action date (PDUFA) is March 8, 2017.
    • KEYTRUDA has Breakthrough Therapy status for advanced MSI-H non-colorectal cancer and advanced MSI-H colorectal cancer.
    • Microsatellites are short repetitive sequences of DNA found throughout the genome. Microsatellite instability (MSI) is caused by a deficiency in the cell's ability to repair errors in the DNA sequence that occur during cell division which leads to a characteristic change in microsatellite repeats. MSI-H is an established biomarker in certain kinds of cancer.
    | Mon, Nov. 28, 7:33 AM | 7 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 23, 8:40 AM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) slumps 3% premarket on higher-than-normal volume as the selling spreads from the disappointing Phase 3 results for Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) Alzheimer's disease (AD) candidate solanezumab.
    • Merck's late-stage AD candidate is verubecestat (MK-8931), an inhibitor of an enzyme called BACE which plays a key role in the production of amyloid beta peptides. Inhibiting BACE is believed to decrease the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain thereby slowing the progression of AD.
    • A Phase 3 study called APECS is currently recruiting patients. The primary endpoint is the change from baseline to week 104 in a scale called CDR-SB (same scale Biogen is using in its late-stage studies of aducanumab). According to, the estimated final data collection date for the primary endpoint is May 2019. The estimated study completion date is March 2021.
    | Wed, Nov. 23, 8:40 AM | 3 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 22, 1:31 PM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) declares $0.47/share quarterly dividend, 2.2% increase from prior dividend of $0.46.
    • Forward yield 3.06%
    • Payable Jan. 9; for shareholders of record Dec. 15; ex-div Dec. 13.
    | Tue, Nov. 22, 1:31 PM | 8 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 17, 9:41 AM
    • Northwest Biotherapeutics (NWBO +12.8%) teams up with the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenbury University Mainz in Germany in a Phase 2 clinical trial assessing the combination of DCVax-L and Merck's (MRK -0.4%) PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in patients with colorectal cancer with liver metastases.
    • After receiving the necessary regulatory approvals, the study will treat patients for up to six months with the combination followed by a long-term follow-up period to assess survival.
    | Thu, Nov. 17, 9:41 AM | 22 Comments
  • Sun, Nov. 13, 8:33 PM
    • Results from three Phase 2 clinical trials assessing Merck's (NYSE:MRK) MK-3682B (MK-3682/grazoprevir/ruzasvir) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection showed virologic cure (SVR12) rates as high as 100%. The data were presented at The Liver Meeting 2016 in Boston, MA.
    • In patients with HCV genotypes 1a, 1b, 2 and 3 treated with MK-3682B with and without ribavirin (RBV) for eight weeks, the cure rates were 93% (n=39/42); 98% (n=45/46); 86% (n-54/63) and 95% (n=98/103), respectively.
    • The same categories of patients treated with MK-3682B with/without RBV for 12 weeks showed cure rates of 98% (n=47/48); 100% (n=40/40); 97% (n=60/62) and 97% (n=155/159), respectively.
    • In HCV genotypes 2 and 3 treated with MK-3682B with/without RBV for 16 weeks, the cure rates were 100% (n=26/26) and 96% (n=72/75), respectively.
    • In the HCV-3 cohorts, 28%, 36% and 81% of the 8-week, 12-week and 16-week groups, respectively, were previously treated with peginterferon/RBV.
    • The most common adverse events (AEs) in patients receiving at least one dose of MK-3682B with/without RBV were headache (22%), fatigue (19%) and nausea (13%). There were two serious treatment-related AEs, both attributed to RBV only. There were nine discontinuations due to AEs, four from RBV only. One patient died due to AEs unrelated to the study drug.
    • MK-3682B is a fixed-dose combination of an NS5B polymerase inhibitor (MK-3682), an NS3/4A protease inhibitor (grazoprevir) and an NS5A inhibitor (ruzasvir).
    • Clinical development of MK-3682B is ongoing.
    • Related tickers: (NASDAQ:GILD)(NYSE:ABBV)(NYSE:JNJ)
    | Sun, Nov. 13, 8:33 PM | 50 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 8:08 AM
    • Biotechs and Big Pharma look like they will jump out of the blocks this morning. Most leading names are up premarket.
    • Sampling: (NASDAQ:AMGN) +4%; (NASDAQ:GILD) +2%; (NASDAQ:REGN+3%; (NASDAQ:BIIB) +4%; (NASDAQ:VRTX) +2%; (NASDAQ:CELG) +3%; (NYSE:BMY) +2%; (NYSE:PFE) +5%; (NYSE:MRK) +2%; (NYSE:AZN) +1%; (NYSE:GSK) +1%; (NYSE:JNJ) +2%; (NYSE:ABBV) +4%; (NYSE:LLY) +3%; (NYSE:NVS) +3%; (NYSE:AGN) +4%; (NASDAQ:TEVA): +6%
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 8:08 AM | 48 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 7:26 AM
    • Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) and Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INFI) will collaborate in a clinical program assessing the combination of Opdivo (nivolumab) and Infinity's IPI-549 in patients with advanced solid tumors. The dose escalation phase exploring the combination should begin shortly.
    • IPI-549 is an orally available inhibitor of phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)-gamma. Opdivo is an programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that activates the immune system's T cells to detect and attack cancer cells.
    • Preclinical data suggest that IPI-549 may enhance the effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors by altering the immune-suppressive microenvironment.
    • A Phase 1 dose-escalation study assessing IPI-549 as monotherapy and in combination with Merck's (NYSE:MRK) Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is currently recruiting participants.
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 7:26 AM | 3 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 4:58 AM
    • Donald Trump's call for a repatriation holiday of 10% for the more than two trillion dollars in corporate cash parked overseas is now closer to reality.
    • He has also promised the biggest tax revolution since Ronald Reagan, pledging that no American business would pay more than 15% of their profits in tax, compared with a current maximum of 35%.
    • Top 10 U.S. companies with cash overseas: MSFT, GE, AAPL, PFE, IBM, MRK, GOOG, GOOGL, JNJ, CSCO, XOM
    • #Election2016
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 4:58 AM | 401 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 3:03 AM
    • Healthcare stocks, the weakest sector this year, may become winners, as Obamacare reforms are set to be "repealed and replaced" and major legislation Clinton proposed is unlikely to be imposed on drugmakers.
    • While Trump hasn't set out a comprehensive alternative to the Affordable Care Act (which may see 22M Americans lose current coverage), he said he'll encourage competition between markets in different states.
    • Insurance stocks: UNH, AET, ANTM, CI, HUM, WCG, CNC, MOH, GTS, HQY
    • Drugmakers premarket: MYL +5.8%, NVS +3.4%, SNY +2.9%, AZN +2.4%, GSK +1.9%, PFE +1.8%, CELG +1%, ABBV, MRK, BMY, LLY, JNJ, ABT, ACET, ZTS, BIIB, REGN
    • #Election2016
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 3:03 AM | 14 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 8, 9:45 AM
    • Thinly traded nano cap OncoSec Medical (ONCS +6.9%) jumps out of the blocks this morning on increased volume in response to its announcement of positive interim results in a mid-stage study assessing ImmunoPulse IL-12 and Merck's (MRK -0.5%) KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in patients with unresectable metastatic melanoma. The data will be presented on November 11 at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting in National Harbor, MD.
    • In 15 patients determined to be unlikely to respond to a PD-1 inhibitor alone, 40% (n=6/15) responded to treatment with ImmunoPulse Il-12 and KEYTRUDA. The group included four complete responders and two partial responders.
    • ImmunoPulse IL-12 delivers a pulsed electric field to cells via a hand-held applicator which temporarily increases the porosity of the cell membranes (electroporation). DNA IL-12 is then delivered to the electroporated cells which triggers each cell to produce and secrete IL-12 protein which then identifies and eliminates cancer cells as part of a natural immune response.
    • Pembrolizumab helps the immune system fight tumor cells by blocking the interaction between PD-1, a cell surface receptor expressed on T cells and pro-B cells, and its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. PD-1 is an immune checkpoint which down regulates the immune system. Blocking its action activates the immune system to attack cancer cells.
    | Tue, Nov. 8, 9:45 AM | 29 Comments