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Ariad Pharmaceuticals, ArQule, Exelixis, Aveo, Other Cancer Drug Stocks Fall


Shares of Array Biopharma and Onyx Pharmaceuticals are jumping, however, following the release of scientific papers ahead of a medical meeting focused on oncology.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Stocks for a number of cancer drug developers are falling Thursday as investors sift through scientific papers released ahead of a major medical conference next month.

Shares of Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Exelixis (EXEL), Aveo Pharmaceuticals (AVEO), ArQule (ARQL) and Oncothyreon (ONTY) all traded down as of midday Thursday. Dendreon (DNDN) shares sank more than 11%, though that drop is probably more related to news of a Securities and Exchange probe over the company's statements about the Provenge cancer vaccine.

On Wednesday night, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, released thousands of scientific abstracts related to human studies of experimental cancer drugs. The studies will be featured at ASCO's annual meeting in Chicago beginning June 1, a make-or-break event for a number of companies trying to bring their new medicines to market. Click here to find ASCO abstracts.

In many cases Wednesday, study data for a number of high-profile cancer drugs in development were merely incrementally positive or negative. Yet investors tracking these stocks saw more red than green on their screens Thursday.

ArQule, which is testing the drug tivantinib for liver cancer and other conditions, dropped 7% to $6.23. That decline followed positive results just announced for the mid-stage study of liver cancer. In fact, some analysts lauded the data.

"On all measures, the incremental details from the (liver cancer) trial of tivantinib improved the outlook for the drug and enhanced the robustness of the data set," RBC Capital Markets analyst Jason Kantor says.

Study data released by Aveo and Seattle Genetics, also won the praise of some analysts. Yet Aveo fell 8% to $11.63 and Seattle Genetics dropped less than 1% to $20.32. Exelixis dipped 3% to $4.76 and Oncothyreon slid 6% to $3.72. The broader market was also down Thursday.

To be sure, some stocks got a lift from the newly released data.

Array Biopharma (ARRY) jumped 7% to $3.90 on hope for its lung cancer drug. The company is partnered with AstraZeneca (AZN). Separately, Array is partnered with Novartis (NVS), Roche, and other companies for additional treatments.

Among large pharmaceutical makers, Pfizer's (PFE) lung cancer drug Xalkori was effective in a study treating a rare type of cancer that afflicts children.

Pfizer rose less than 1% to $22.73.

Companies big and small view the ASCO meeting as critical to their plans for bringing new drugs to market. (See Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Ariad, and Medivation in Spotlight at Cancer Meeting.)

Twitter: @brettchase

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