Exelixis Partners With Merck KGaA And Pfizer For STELLAR-001 Clinical Trial

Exelixis, an oncology-focused biotechnology company, entered into a clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with Germany-based Merck KGaA, a science and technology company, and Pfizer, for the ongoing phase 1b dose escalation study STELLAR-001 (previously called “XL092-001”). Shares declined 1.3% to close at $22.86 on March 18.

The study includes three new cohorts, which will evaluate the efficacy of XL092, Exelixis’ (EXEL) next generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), along with avelumab (BAVENCIO), an anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI), in patients with metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC).

Per the terms of the agreement, Exelixis will sponsor the STELLAR-001 clinical trial, while Merck KGaA and Pfizer (PFE) will provide avelumab for use in the trial.  Notably, Avelumab is co-developed and co-commercialized by Merck and Pfizer.

Exelixis CMO Gisela Schwab said, “Although several therapies are now available to treat bladder cancers, the prognosis for patients with advanced disease remains poor and more options are needed. Evaluating how XL092 may positively impact care when paired with immunotherapy is central to our goal of improving therapeutic outcomes for patients with this and other difficult-to-treat cancers.” (See Exelixis stock analysis on TipRanks)

On March 17, Oppenheimer analyst Jay Olson reiterated a Buy rating on the stock with a price target of $35 (53.1% upside potential).

Olson believes “EXEL faces promising opportunities in 2021 with the launch of cabo + nivo in 1L RCC and expects building momentum as COVID-19 vaccination progresses.”

Shares have rallied 50.7% over the year, while Wall Street analysts are still bullish about the stock. The Strong Buy consensus rating boasts 6 unanimous Buys. Looking ahead, the average analyst price target stands at $34.20, putting the upside potential at 49.6% over the next 12 months.

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