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Celgene (CELG) Reports Data on Lupus Drug in Phase II Trial

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Celgene Corporation CELG announced results from the phase II trial, SLE-001 at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) 2017 in Madrid. The trial evaluated investigational candidate, CC-220,

The data showed greater improvement with CC-220 (an oral immunomodulatory compound) treatment compared with placebo in multiple measures of disease activity, as measured by standard scores employed in clinical trials in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as lupus.

The trial randomized 42 patients who were diagnosed with lupus at least six months before and had a baseline SELENA-SLEDAI score greater than or equal to four. The patients were randomized to one of four escalating doses of CC-220 (CC-220 0.3 mg every other day, 0.3 mg once daily, 0.3 mg alternating with 0.6 mg once daily and 0.6 mg once daily) or placebo for 12 weeks. This was followed by 12 weeks of observational follow-up or long-term extension. The study evaluated safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics.

The data was presented by Celgene International Sàrl, a wholly owned subsidiary of Celgene.

However, serious adverse events (AEs) were reported in two patients in the two highest CC-220 doses combined (pneumonia in both cases) and in two patients in the placebo group. Five patients in the two highest CC-220 dose groups and one patient in the placebo group discontinued due to AEs.

CC-220 is also being evaluated for multiple myeloma.

Meanwhile, Celgene’s shares have outperformed the Zacks classified Medical-Biomedical and Genetics industry in the past one year. Specifically, the stock gained 19.8% during this period, against the industry’s decline of 3.7%.

Celgene’s key growth engine is Revlimid. In 2016, the drug’s worldwide sales increased 20% to $7.0 billion. Revlimid, continues to outperform on the back of market share gains and increased duration. The company’s portfolio also includes Pomalyst/Imnovid, Abraxane, Otezla, Istodax, Vidaza and Thalomid/Thalidomide. However, Otezla sales in the first quarter were impacted by managed care dynamics that drove lower total marketplace prescriptions for psoriasis therapies.

Last week, Celgene and partner Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. AGIO announced new efficacy and safety data from the ongoing phase I dose-escalation and expansion study on experimental candidate Idhifa at an oral session at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Celgene currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some valuable stocks worth considering in the health care sector include VIVUS, Inc. VVUS and Zoetis Inc. ZTS . While VIVUS currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Zoetis carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see  the complete list of today’s Zacks Rank #1  stocks here .

VIVUS’ loss per share estimates narrowed from 50 cents to 39 cents for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted positive earnings surprises in all of the four trailing quarters, with an average beat of 233.69%.

Zoetis’ earnings per share estimates increased from $2.32 to $2.34 for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted positive earnings surprises in all four trailing quarters, with an average beat of 9.82%.

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