Squibb Gains on News Involving Cancer Drug

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) said its immunotherapy Opdivo helped patients with a common type of lung cancer live longer without the disease worsening in an eagerly awaited late-stage study, sending shares up on Monday.

The company, which also reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, said the trial was testing Opdivo in combination with its own drug Yervoy in patients with first-line non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Opdivo is going head to head with rival drugs from Merck (NYSE: MRK), Roche and Astrazeneca in the multi-billion-dollar cancer immunotherapy market. Shares in all three companies were marginally down.

The NSCLC patients being tested in the trial had high tumor mutation burden, "an important biomarker for the activity of immunotherapy," Bristol-Myers said.

In the past, companies had been classifying patients on the terms of expression of a protein called PD-L1, but that had mixed success, according to Loncar.

An independent committee recommended that the study continue, based on an interim analysis for another main goal - overall survival, or helping patients survive longer while on the treatment, Bristol-Myers added.

Fourth-quarter net loss attributable was $2.33 billion compared with a year-ago profit of $894 million, as the drugmaker took a $2.9 billion charge.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned 68 cents per share in the quarter ended Dec. 31, analysts were expecting 67 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company forecast 2018 adjusted earnings per share of $3.15-$3.30. Analysts had expected $3.23 per share.

Shares in Bristol-Myers Squibb improved $1.19, or 1.9%, to $64.67