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Merck’s Antibacterial Drug Succeeds in Label Expansion Study

Zacks

Merck & Co., Inc. MRK announced that a late-stage study evaluating its antibacterial drug, Zerbaxa for two types of pneumonia infections met the primary endpoints

Zerbaxa, a combination of ceftolozane and tazobactam, is presently marketed for some complicated urinary tract infections.

The pivotal phase III study evaluated Zerbaxa for new indications — ventilated hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia (HABP) or ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia (VABP). Results from the study demonstrated non-inferiority of Zerbaxa to meropenem, the active comparator, thereby meeting the study’s primary endpoint. Based on these data, Merck plans to submit regulatory applications in the United States and EU to get approval for these new indications, which are serious hospital-related pulmonary infections,

So far this year, Merck’s shares have outperformed the industry, rising 22.7% compared with a 4.7% increase for the industry.


Zerbaxa was added to Merck’s portfolio with the 2015 acquisition of Cubist Pharmaceuticaland is part of itshospital acute care portfolio. Other popular products in Merck’s hospital acute care portfolioare Noxafil, Cubicin andBridion.

Merck currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked large drug/biotech stocks are Eli Lilly & Company LLY, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company BMY and Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD. While Bristol-Myers and Gilead sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Lilly has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Gilead’s earnings estimates increased 7.5% for 2018 and 1.9% for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 6.43%. Shares of Gilead have gained 1.3% in the past three months.

Bristol-Myers’ earnings estimates increased 5.8% for 2018 and 4.9% for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 6.39%. Shares of Bristol-Myers have rallied 13.2% in the past three months.

Lilly’s earnings estimates increased 6% for 2018 and 3.6% for 2019 over the last 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 10.15%. The company’s shares have increased 23.3% in the past three months.

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