Nasdaq Buoyed by Biotech

pillsmoneyThe Nasdaq rose 5 points on Monday, due in part to recent happenings in the biopharmaceutical sector. Celgene Corporation of Summit, NJ, was upgraded from “Neutral” to “Outperform” by Robert W. Baird & Co. An upgrade is seen as a sign that analysts have confidence in the stock’s future performance.

Also on Monday, California-based Amgen released Phase III data on its bone drug, denosumab. Patients with advanced breast cancer taking denosumab saw a longer delay in the onset of bone complications than patients taking Novartis‘ Zometa. Another study showed that denosumab was similarly effective in patients with a mix of tumor types. Although the difference was not statistically significant, it did enable Amgen to demonstrate non-inferiority. The company also pointed out that denosumab does not cause the flu-like symptoms and kidney problems associated with Zometa. Bone destruction occurs when a tumor spreads to the bone, causing structural damage. Approximately 70 percent of patients with metastatic disease experience bone pain. 

Also released today: clinical trial data from Amgen’s colon cancer drug, Vectibix. Researchers found that Vectibix performed only slightly better than chemotherapy in a Phase III study.

In contrast to the Nasdaq, the Dow and S&P 500 index were hit by drops in oil and commodities. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell around 41 points to close at 9779.  The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped by 3.64 points to close at 1065.

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