2 Top Catalysts This Week: AstraZeneca and Merrimack

AstraZeneca, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Opko Health have pending catalysts next week, making them key stocks to watch.

Jun 22, 2014 at 9:30AM


Let's take a look at next week's top health care and biotech catalysts. Keep an eye out AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN)and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MACK).    

AstraZeneca's ovarian cancer drug set to be reviewed next week
AstraZeneca decided to repeatedly rebuff Pfizer's acquisition overtures largely because it has confidence in its clinical pipeline. Next week will be the first test of the company's faith, as its platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer with germline BRCA mutation drug dubbed "olaparib" is set to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration on June 25.

Per usual, we should see the all-important briefing documents released two days prior to the Advisory Panel. The drug's PDUFA target action date is presently scheduled for Oct. 3.   

What's key to understand is that olaparib has had a rocky developmental history, with AstraZeneca even shuttering its clinical trials at one point and taking a $285 million charge in the process. After restarting its clinical program by launching a late-stage trial last year, the company subsequently submitted a New Drug Application, or NDA, to the FDA based on the drug's midstage results. AstraZeneca has also launched a late-stage study for olaparib as a potential treatment for BRCAm breast cancer. 

Given that olaparib has blockbuster potential if approved for multiple indications, it is certainly worth keeping tabs on this Advisory Committee meeting next week. Moreover, olaparib is expected to be an important driver of top line growth going forward, as the company continues to lose patent protection for former top-selling drugs like Nexium. In sum, this could be the start of AstraZeneca's recovery from the so-called patent cliff that cost the company a reported $2.2 billion last year alone.  

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals will discuss late-stage study for pancreatic cancer drug
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals will give an oral presentation at the
European Society for Medical Oncology World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer on June 25, where it will reveal further details of its successful late-stage study for MM-398 as a second-line treatment for pancreatic cancer. 

MM-398 was previously reported to increased survival by 1.9 months when used in combination with 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin, which was statistically significant compared to the control arm of 5-FU and leucovorin. But MM-398 did not confer a significant clinical benefit in terms of increased survival when used as a monotherapy. 

Shares of this small-cap biotech have shot up close to 50% since announcing these top line results and investors are eagerly awaiting more news regarding a possible NDA filing with the FDA later this year. 

Merrimack is slated to provide an update on the drug's safety and efficacy at this upcoming meeting. That being said, investors should keep an ear open for details regarding the company's plans for a regulatory filing and the drug's estimated market opportunity. To date, we still don't know much about how Merrimack envisions MM-398 to fit into the current landscape of pancreatic cancer treatments or its commercial potential.

And with Merrimack losing its partner Sanofi last week for the development of MM-121, the company's outlook would appear to depend even more heavily upon MM-398 going forward. Merrimack will hold a conference call at 8 a.m. E.T. on June 26 to discuss the data being presented at the conference.  

Leaked: This coming blockbuster will make every biotech jealous
The best biotech investors consistently reap gigantic profits by recognizing true potential earlier and more accurately than anyone else. Let me cut right to the chase. There is a product in development that will revolutionize not how we treat a common chronic illness, but potentially the entire health industry. Analysts are already licking their chops at the sales potential. In order to outsmart Wall Street and realize multi-bagger returns you will need The Motley Fool’s new free report on the dream-team responsible for this game-changing blockbuster. CLICK HERE NOW.

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers