Celldex Skids As It Takes On A Blockbuster Roche, Novartis Drug

Celldex Therapeutics (CLDX) took aim at Roche (RHHBY) and Novartis‘ (NVS) blockbuster hives treatment on Friday with a small, early-stage study that showed promise — but CLDX stock tumbled.


The company tested its drug, barzolvolimab, in 26 patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria, a condition in which hives appear for up to six weeks or longer. At 12 weeks, the hives completely disappeared for 57.1% of patients who took a low dose of barzolvolimab. Another group took a higher dose and 44.4% saw completely clear skin at eight weeks.

Importantly, Celldex studied its treatment in patients who didn’t respond to antihistamines. The other treatment option for them would be Roche and Novartis’ Xolair. But in Xolair’s pivotal test, just 36% of patients saw complete hive clearance by week 12.

Still, on today’s stock market, CLDX stock skidded 15.8% to 22.70. It was unclear why shares toppled. Novartis stock also fell 0.2% to 84.36 and shares of Roche lifted 0.7% to 42.01.

CLDX Stock: Resolving Itching, Hives

Barzolvolimab works by binding to and blocking a receptor that appears on mast cells. Mast cells play a key role in inflammatory responses, particularly hypersensitivity and allergic reactions.

In Celldex’s test, 66.6% of patients in the low-dose group saw improvements in subsiding their itching and hives after 12 weeks. More than three-quarters of patients in the high-dose group, 75.1%, experienced the same improvements after eight weeks.

The results stem just one dose of barzolvolimab, a bullish point for CLDX stock.

“We are excited by these interim multiple dose data which demonstrate strong clinical activity, rapid onset and sustained durability with a well-tolerated safety profile, including in patients with prior (Xolair) experience,” Celldex Chief Executive Anthony Marucci said in a written statement.

Rivaling Novartis, Roche Drug

Novartis lists Xolair as one of the top 20 innovative medicine products. In 2021, the self-injected drug brought in $1.43 billion in sales, growing 12% in constant currency.

Celldex’s barzolvolimab was also easily tolerated. Most side effects were mild or moderate and none led patients to stop treatment. They included urinary tract infections, headache, lower white blood cell count and back pain.

CLDX stock had run up through June 24, but then began sliding. Shares gapped down Friday on the news and now have a low Relative Strength Rating of 28 out of a best-possible 99, according to IBD Digital. This means the stock’s 12-month performance ranks in the bottom 28% of all stocks.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.


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