Why Pfizer Is Pushing the Dow to All-Time Highs

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Although the markets were mixed on Thursday, major drug manufacturers proved to be one of the more positive segments on the day. In fact, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) proved to be some of the top-performing Dow stocks, helping to push the average to all-time highs, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq backed off.

Pfizer had the biggest gain out of the group, but it also had the biggest news break on Thursday. Pfizer, along with Astellas, announced late-stage results from their Prosper trial of Xtandi (enzalutamide).

Specifically, the Phase 3 trial was evaluating Xtandi plus androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) versus ADT alone in patients with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The trial met its primary endpoint of improved metastasis-free survival.

Looking ahead, the companies intend to discuss the data with global health authorities to potentially support expanding the label for Xtandi to cover all patients with CRPC.

Currently, Xtandi is approved for the treatment of metastatic CRPC based on clinical data from previous studies that showed a statistically significant overall survival benefit versus the placebo in a metastatic CRPC setting. Xtandi has been prescribed to more than 185,000 patients globally since its first approval in 2012.

Neal Shore, M.D., director, CPI, Carolina Urologic Research Center, commented:

Many prostate cancer patients who initiate androgen deprivation therapy will experience disease progression illustrated by a rising PSA level, and currently, there are no FDA-approved treatment options for patients with non-metastatic CRPC until they develop confirmed radiographic metastatic disease.

Mace Rothenberg, M.D., chief development officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development, added:

We are delighted with the significant results seen in the Prosper study, showing that Xtandi plus ADT delayed clinically detectable metastases compared to ADT alone in patients with non-metastatic CRPC whose only sign of underlying disease was a rapidly rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. We look forward to discussing the data with regulatory authorities. Xtandi is already established as a standard of care for men with metastatic CRPC based on the results of prior studies, such as Affirm and Prevail, which demonstrated that Xtandi delayed disease progression and improved overall survival in men with clinically detectable metastatic disease.

Shares of Pfizer were last seen up 2% at $35.75, with a consensus analyst price target of $37.45 and a 52-week range of $29.83 to $35.84.

Merck and Johnson & Johnson shares each were up less than 2% to $65.88 and $134.25, respectively.