Healthcare Business

4 Pharmaceutical Companies Leading the Breast Cancer Fight

If one cancer strikes a chord with women all over the world, it is breast cancer. While treatments have improved dramatically, it still ranks as the most common cancer among women, with the exception of skin cancers. About one in eight (12%) women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. RBC analysts met with top physicians in Boston and hosted panels to find out what the best treatments currently are.

In a new report, the RBC team focused on the companies that are making the most progress with treatments for patients. We highlight four of them: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), Medivation Inc. (NASDAQ: MDVN) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).

Bristol-Myers Squibb

This company discovers, develops, licenses, manufactures, markets, distributes and sells biopharmaceutical products worldwide. It provides chemically-synthesized drugs or small molecules and biologics in various therapeutic areas, including virology, comprising human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), as well as oncology neuroscience immunoscience and cardiovascular.

Taxol (paclitaxel) is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and has long been used in the treatment of breast cancer and other cancers as well. The company also markets Ixempra (ixabepilone), which is a prescription medicine used to treat locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer when certain other medicines have not worked or no longer work. Ixempra can be used alone or with another cancer medicine called Xeloda (capecitabine).

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Bristol-Myers investors are paid a solid 2.3% dividend. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target for the stock is $70.13. Shares closed most recently at $65.05.

Merck

This stock has been hit hard since printing a high in late January. Although it has rallied back smartly, it still may be offering new investors a very good entry point. It also remains a leading health care company that is on the focus lists of many of the top firms we cover. The company’s numerous prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and consumer care and animal health products are provided to customers in more than 140 countries.

Merck is the world’s fourth-biggest drug maker by revenue. Merck said late last year its Keytruda shrank tumors to some extent in one-third of 27 patients evaluated in a study called Keynote-012. All had what is called triple-negative breast cancer that had spread outside the breast, and about 85% had worsened after multiple rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments — some five or more treatments. The company will be starting mid-stage patient tests of Keytruda soon. It has received accelerated approval for advanced melanoma but needs further testing for permanent approval.

Merck investors are paid a 3% dividend. The consensus price target is $65.34, and the stock closed Thursday at $60.30 a share.

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