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Allergan (AGN) Collaborates with Novartis to Treat NASH


Allergan plc AGN entered into a collaboration with Novartis AG NVS to conduct a phase IIb study to evaluate a combination of its drug cenicriviroc (CVC) and Novartis lead Fxr agonist to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

A look at Allergan’s year-to-date share price movement shows that the company has outperformed the Zacks classified Medical – Generic Drugs industry. Specifically, the stock gained 11.6% so far this year against a 3.4% decline for the industry.

NASH is the progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which occurs when the accumulation of liver fat is accompanied by inflammation and cellular damage. The inflammation can cause fibrosis of the liver and eventually lead to many complications. Allergan is developing CVC as a once-daily orally administered immunomodulator that blocks chemokine receptors in inflammatory and fibrogenic pathways.

Other than CVC, it is developing evogliptin and AGN-242266 programs, targeting different mechanisms for the treatment of this multi-factorial NASH disease.

With no treatments currently approved for this disease, the market opportunity is significant. With Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s ICPT Ocaliva, Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s CNAT emricasan and Galmed Pharmaceuticals’s Aramchol, several companies are working on developing treatments for NASH.

In a separate press release, a generic drug company Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC, which was engaged in a patent dispute over Allergan’s eye drug, Restasis, announced that it has reached a settlement. The agreement grants Argentum the right to market a generic version of Restasis before the expiry of the patent. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat dry eye.

Currently, Allergan carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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