What to Expect From Eli Lilly at ASCO

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In the coming weeks, biotech and pharma companies will descend on Chicago for one of the biggest conferences in 2017. The 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is set to run from June 2 to June 6 and it promises to make headlines. ASCO has been known to make or break companies, with winners walking away with a nice gain and losers trying to pick up the pieces.

The abstracts for ASCO have already been released, and there already have been some moves in anticipation.

Here, 24/7 Wall St. is specifically taking a look at Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) and what Credit Suisse sees happening for this pharma giant at ASCO.

Credit Suisse has an Outperform rating for Eli Lilly with an $87 price target, implying an upside of roughly 11.5% from the current price level.

The brokerage firm detailed in its report:

Further details on Eli Lilly’s abemaciclib will help determine its place in the CDK 4/6 market. For Eli Lilly the focus is on abemaciclib with the MONARCH-2 data in abstract 1000. This study looked at abemaciclib in combination with fulvestrant in patients with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer who had progressed on prior endocrine therapy. In the ITT population, the median investigator-assessed progression free survival (PFS) was 16.4 months for patients treated with abemaciclib and fulvestrant as compared to 9.3 months for those on fulvestrant alone (HR = 0.553). It is difficult to compare the efficacy directly to the other leading CDK 4/6 inhibitors (Pfizer’s Ibrance and Novartis’ Kisqali).

A key commercial question for abemaciclib remains the primary side effect of diarrhea. While the overall incidence of diarrhea cited in the abstract is high (86.4% vs. 24.7% for the placebo group), Eli Lilly remains confident that the diarrhea is manageable with the guidelines that have been developed to use antidiarrheal medications at the first sign of diarrhea. In the MONARCH-1 data presented last month at AACR, the severity and frequency of diarrhea did go down after the first couple cycles when following these guidelines and only one patient (out of 132) discontinued the study due to diarrhea.

Credit Suisse also said:

Abstract 1019 is also intriguing to us as it shows abemaciclib having antitumor activity in at least two patients from a population of heavily pre-treated patients with breast cancer, lung cancer or melanoma who had brain metastases. This is a potentially important differentiating factor for abemaciclib down the road as compared to Ibrance and Novartis’ Kisqali, which we do not believe cross the blood brain barrier. We look forward to the full results from this study, as well as MONARCH-2, at ASCO, and the MONARCH-3 presentation later this year to more fully assess how the overall profile for abemaciclib stacks up to Ibrance and Kisqali in what should be a very large CDK 4/6 market.

Shares of Eli Lilly were last seen at $78.08 on Wednesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $89.10 and a 52-week trading range of $64.18 to $86.72.