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Merck's exit pushes Endocyte shares lower

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Shares of central Indiana pharmaceutical firm Endocyte Inc. skidded 15 percent Wednesday morning after industry giant Merck & Co. Inc. gave up on developing Endocyte cancer drug vintafolide.

On Tuesday, West-Lafayette-based Endocyte said it had regained worldwide rights to vintafolide from Merck. The move essentially meant Endocyte lost Merck’s financial backing and sales muscle for the drug.

The treatment failed a key study last month, leading to a 62-percent single-day drop in Endocyte's share price on May 2. Shares finished the day near $6.65.

Endocyte and Merck announced May 19 that they were terminating a clinical trial of the drug, after an analysis showed vintafolide didn’t demonstrate efficacy when treating patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

Endocyte said Tuesday it will continue to test vintafolide for lung cancer.

Shares of Endocyte traded at $6.55 at mid-morning Wednesday.
 

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