Keep an Eye on AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Vertex Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Good morning, fellow Fools! It's time to check in on the movers and shakers in health care today.

Bristol-Myers and AstraZeneca go their separate ways 
Bristol-Myers Squibb is $4.1 billion richer today after inking a deal with AstraZeneca to hand over its half of the duo's diabetes franchise. Per the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay $2.7 billion for Bristol-Meyers' share, and $1.4 billion in milestone payments. The deal gives AstraZeneca sole commercial rights over the type 2 diabetes drugs Onglyza and Kombiglyze XR. This issue is key because type 2 diabetes is the fastest-growing form of the disease. 


So, who got the better part of the deal? Although the market's initial reaction seems to favor Bristol-Myers, my take is that both companies come off smelling like roses with this one. Although $4.1 billion is nothing to sneeze at, the diabetes market is growing by leaps and bounds , with multiple blockbusters already on the market. On the other hand, this gives Bristol-Myers more dry powder to continue building out their already robust oncology pipeline. In short, this is a win-win deal in my book.  

Vertex's cystic fibrosis drug fails in a late-stage trial
Vertex Pharmaceuticals is down more than 5% in pre-market trading this morning after announcing that its experiment drug ivacaftor for cystic fibrosis patients with the R117H mutation failed to meet its primary endpoint in a late-stage study. Specifically, the drug failed to improve lung function across the patient population, but a subset of patients, 18 and over, did appear to benefit from the drug. The company plans to meet with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration early next year to discuss the results.

What's my take? While these results are certainly disappointing to investors and patients alike, it's important to remember that ivacaftor is approved for cystic fibrosis patients with the G551D mutation, and the company has other clinical candidates in the works. And the fact that the drug appears to work in a subset of patients means that all hope is not lost. The FDA could be agreeable to expanding the drug's use in this older population where it appears to provide some benefit. In sum, you may want to keep Vertex on your radar.

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The article Keep an Eye on AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Vertex Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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