Sat, May 03, 2014 - Page 13 News List

PharmaEngine Inc shares soar 6.93% on trial results

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Shares of PharmaEngine Inc (智擎), which develops drugs for cancer and diseases prevalent in Asia, soared by the daily limit yesterday after the company revealed positive results for phase-three clinical trails of a pancreatic cancer treatment.

Shares soared 6.93 percent to close at NT$270 yesterday, outperforming the TAIEX, which rose 0.86 percent.

“The [clinical trial] results indicated that PharmaEngine is likely to receive a drug permit for PEP02, or MM386, by the end of this year in the US and Taiwan, allowing PharmaEngine to book a milestone payment of US$75 million from its US partner Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc,” an official of the company, who declined to be named, said over the phone on Thursday.

According to the official, the US$75 million payment will help the pharmaceutical firm swing into the black this year.

Last year, the company’s revenue plunged 79.68 percent to NT$37.4 million (US$1.24 million), from NT$184.03 million in the previous year because of fewer milestone payments, according to the company’s filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

Because of lower revenue, the company reported a loss of NT$117.93 million for last year, while it posted a net profit of NT$48.9 million a year ago, according to the filing.

As for this year, in addition to higher revenue, the company expects to book lower expenses — NT$100 million, down 36.17 percent from NT$156.66 million last year, the official said.

PharmaEngine and Merrimack announced yesterday that the combination of PEP02 and 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin (5-FU/LV) can increase the overall survival of terminally ill patients to 6.1 months instead of the 4.2 months achieved for patients taking only 5-FU/LV. The difference is statistically significant.

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals shares rose 59 percent in New York trading to US$6.99 after the announcement yesterday, outperforming the NASDAQ Composite Index, which was up 0.31 percent.

After the drug is approved in the US, Merrimack will apply for drug permits for MM398 in Europe and Asia, except Taiwan, PharmaEngine said.

PharmaEngine estimated that potential sales of MM386 in Europe and Asia except Taiwan can reach US$500 million a year, PharmaEngine said.

SinoPac Securities Co (永豐金證券) yesterday raised the target price of PharmaEngine to NT$356 from NT$290 because of the results, the bank’s report said.

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