Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) experienced its lowest stock drop (5.6%) in 17 months after the company announced it was not ready to push through with its investigational combination cancer treatment trial. The trial included BMS’ highest prospect lung cancer drug nivolumab and Yervoy.
Nivolumab is being tested as an investigational treatment for lung, skin, and kidney cancers, among others. The drug could be used as a monotherapy or in combination with Yervoy, BMS’ first immune-based cancer drug. Yervoy is already available in the market.
The combination presented a strong possibility to develop a powerful therapy against cancer. Investors had been closely following the drug trials and awaiting the company’s move as to when it will push the trial to its final stages. Already, the Yervoy-nivolumab combination therapy has led the company’s shares to a 42 percent gain in the last 12 months.
But BMS said it was not ready to proceed with the long-awaited final stage of the trials. New York-based BMS R&D head Francis Cuss said, “Based on our assessment of the preliminary data, we will continue the cohorts of patients before beginning a registrational study... We’ll certainly know a lot more about nivolumab a year from now.”
Analysts said investors put high valuation on the company’s top prospect’s success. Judson Clark, an analyst with Edward Jones and Co., said, “We’ve got a hold rating on Bristol, because we’ve got a valuation that can’t be supported without overly strong nivo and Yervoy sales... At this point it looks like the estimates have almost fully baked in success.”
The company is deemed the furthest along in cancer drugs research programs. BMS announced in November last year that it was ending research in diabetes, neuroscience, and hepatitis C in order to focus on new generation immune-based cancer therapies. Clark said the company’s move made sense, “When you realize you are the furthest down the path of these cancer drugs, it makes sense to make that your focus.”
The company said lower costs from the November research overhaul won’t affect results until late 2014. BMS said it anticipates increased spending to help introduce novel cancer treatments despite stock drops due to investor uncertainties.