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Hot Stocks: ASCO's Winners and Losers

Monday, 4 Jun 2007 | 4:27 PM ET

Onyx Pharmaceuticals was the big winner at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, held in Chicago. Onyx shares rose more than 8% on Monday after the company announced positive results for cancer drug Nexavar.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based company and marketing partner Bayer said liver cancer patients taking Nexavar extended survival rates by about three months compared to those taking a placebo, according to data from a recent clinical trial. The drug is already approved for the treatment of kidney cancer.

Onyx CEO
The pharma sector is under the microscope as ASCO meets today. CNBC's Erin Burnett & Mike Huckman meets with Hollings Renton, Onyx Pharmaceuticals chairman, pres. & CEO

Bear Stearns upgraded the Onyx shares to "outperform" from "peer perform" and raised the price target to $40. Analyst Akhtar Samad said in a note sent to clients that results of the trial made him more confident Nexavar will become the "standard of care" in hepatocellular carcinoma, a form of liver cancer and fifth most common type of cancer overall.

Biotech giant Genentech reported new data for cancer drug Avastin below expectations, sending shares down 1.95%. Avastin failed to show an overall survival benefit in colon cancer patients taking the drug along with the most commonly used chemotherapy, according to a clinical trial known as AVAiL. "Data from the AVAiL trial were disappointing in terms of Avastin's activity, and will likely drive physicians to the lower dose of the drug over time," said Bret Holley, an analyst with CIBC World Markets.

Pfizer reported promising resutls for experimental pancreatic cancer treatment axitinib. The world's largest drugmaker said data from an early Phase II trial was strong enough to warrant further studies.

Celgene shares fell slightly after the biotech firm announced new data for Revlimid in first-line multiple myeloma in line with expectations. Celgene said 96% of patients taking Revlimid and low dose dexamethasone, a steroid, survived for one year, a greater percentage than any other previous first-line trial.

Shares of both SuperGen and MGI Pharma rose following lukewarm data for rival treatments of Dacogen, the companies' drug for myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS. Data for competitive products Pharmion's Vidaza and Celgene's Revlimid appeared inferior to Dacogen, said Vinny Jindal, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners. "We believe Dacogen will emerge as the front-line standard of care for higher-risk MDS patients, with Vidaza or Vidaza plus Revlimid used in Dacogen-failures," he wrote in a client note.

Shares of ImClone Systems fell 2.4% after the company announced mixed results for cancer drug Erbitux. The company said the drug combined with chemotherapy delayed death in patients with head-and-neck cancer by three months. "We think this is a major impact," Dr. Eric Rowinsky, ImClone's chief medical officer, told CNBC's Mike Huckman.

Imclone Outlook
The news out of the Chicago oncology conference is mixed for cancer drug maker Imclone Systems, Mike Huckman, CNBC pharmaceuticals reporter talks with Dr. Eric Rowinsky, Imclone's Chief Medical Officer, & CNBC's Michelle Caruso Cabrera

In addition, Erbitux, co-marketed and co-developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb , delayed progression of the colon cancer by one month when added to standard chemotherapy treatments, according to new data released Monday.

IDM Pharma was another winner, rising more than 16% on Monday after the tiny drug developer said data from a Phase II trial of experimental vaccine EP-2101 was shown to be well tolerated in lung cancer patients. The company said one-year survival in patients treated with the vaccine was 60% compared with 49% of patients in the control group.

ArQule released results of experimental drug ARQ 197, which showed good safety, promising activity and potential for reducing tumors. But investors appeared to be disappointed with the results, sending shares down sharply on Monday.

Shares of Telik fell 22% after the company reported disappointing data for experimental lung cancer drug telcyta. A late-stage study of the drug in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer failed to show superiority compared with AstraZeneca's Iressa.

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Peter Kang is a markets writer with CNBC.com and can be reached at peter.kang@nbcuni.com.

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