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In a stunning setback for Bristol-Myers Squibb, its blockbuster Opdivo medicine failed to meet the primary endpoint in an important, late-stage study involving patients with newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer. The news sent Bristol-Myers stock plunging 17 percent in early trading, while giving a boost to Merck, its biggest rival among companies with so-called checkpoint inhibitor treatments.

Specifically, the top-line results from the Phase 3 trial, which is called Checkmate-026, indicated that Opdivo failed to show progression-free survival in patients. By comparison, Merck disclosed two months ago that its own Keytruda treatment met the primary endpoint in a trial in which the drug was being tested for the same condition.


“This is a major surprise,” Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote in a note to clients. “Investors had high expectations for this trial.”

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  • BMS has a history of over hyping its drugs then failing spectacularly. Don’t you dig those Opdivo tv ads, people staring upwards, I’m always expecting announcer to say “its a bird, its a plane, its Opdivo!” which by the way will give you another eight weeks of terminal life. For the pre geezers in the crowd read the story of Vanlev, whose failure actually cased a larger one day drop in BMS stock (22%) than today’s tanking of 17% due to Opdivo. The only thing that’s surprising to me is that the investor crowd had such faith in a drug trial in the first place, and reaffirms the fact that when you get to phase 3 the only slam dunk is that your bonus will now be flying out the window. You can look and find it zooming towards that Opdivo billboard at the top of the building. Guess it wont be a chance for those good old stock options to live longer.

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