Merrimack Pharmaceuticals shares tumble on termination of Phase 2 trial for lung cancer treatment

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MM121 is also being evaluated to fight certain types of metastatic breast cancer

Shares of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:MACK) plunged in Friday’s pre-market session after the clinical-stage oncology company announced it terminated a Phase 2 trial for its treatment of non-small cell lung cancer due to its failure to improve patients’ chances for survival.

The SHERLOC trial that was halted was evaluating its drug MM-121 in combination with the anti-cancer drug docetaxel in patients with heregulin-positive non-small cell lung cancer.

“Since futility was observed, the decision has been made to terminate the study,” Merrimack said.

Disappointed by the results, investors sent Merrimack shares reeling, pushing them down by 32% to $3.50 before the market opened on Friday.

In the wake of the move, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is starting a review of its drug pipeline, which will include an evaluation of these results on the continued development of MM-121.

"We are very disappointed by the outcome of this study, in particular for patients and families facing this difficult diagnosis," said Merrimack's chief medical officer Sergio Santillana in a statement.

MM-121 is also being assessed in a Phase 2 study called SHERBOC, which is looking into its ability to fight certain types of metastatic breast cancer, in combination with the drug fluvestrant, compared to fluvestrant alone.

Merrimack will offer an update on its drug pipeline and the results of its portfolio review on November 7 when it presents its third-quarter results. It also plans to present observations from the SHERLOC study at an upcoming medical oncology meeting.

The US Food and Drug Administration awarded MM-121 orphan drug status in November 2017 for the treatment of heregulin positive non-small cell lung cancer. Heregulin positive cancer cells are able to bypass the effects of certain targeted therapies. MM-121 was designed to block that ability and make the cells more responsive to treatment.

Contact Ellen Kelleher at

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