1250 GMT - Merck is among the most mentioned companies across news items over the past 12 hours, according to Factiva data, after the German pharmaceutical-and-chemical group said its multiple sclerosis drug didn't meet expectations in a late-stage trial. The drug didn't show strong enough efficacy in reducing annualized relapse rates and therefore missed the company's aim to match the results of Aubagio, a drug for the disease owned by the French drug giant Sanofi. The news is negative from a strategic point of view, as it reduces the pipeline value, Equita analyst Gianmarco Bonacina says in a research note. However, the analyst also points out that expectations for sales of this drug had been significantly reduced and were almost slashed to zero in April, after Merck flagged liver problems shown by two patients in the sample under examination. Sentiment towards the bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors won't be helped by Merck's failure of evobrutinib to demonstrate superiority over Aubagio, given the class is already clouded by liver toxicity concerns, Citi analysts write in a note to clients. Now the main drug in the pipeline is xevinapant to treat cancer in the head and neck region, with readout of the Phase 3 trial in the next six months, Equita says. Dow Jones & Co. owns Factiva. (andrea.figueras@wsj.com)

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 06, 2023 08:05 ET (13:05 GMT)

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