Add Novocure‘s ( NVCR ) medical device to standard drugs improved survival for late-stage lung cancer patients, sending NVCR shares soaring on Thursday.
The company sells a device that uses electric fields at specific frequencies to interrupt the rapid division of cancer cells. This prevents abnormal cancer cells from growing into tumors.
Novocure tested its tumor treatment fields on top of standard drugs. The combination led to a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer patients.
These patients are also resistant to specific chemotherapies. It has been six years since a regimen in Phase 3 testing led to a significant improvement in overall survival for these patients, Novocure Executive Chairman William Doyle said in a written statement.
“We are also excited about the profound performance of (the tumor treatment fields) together with immunotherapy, which has the potential to meaningfully extend patient survival beyond what was previously thought possible,” he said.
On today’s stock market, NVCR shares rose by 68.5% to close at 118.81.
NVCR stock: Questions remain
Novocure plans to apply for approval to the Food and Drug Administration in the second half of the year. It also expects to apply for a CE mark in Europe at the same time.
But Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Kumar maintained his underperform rating on NVCR stock.
The study design was changed in early 2021 based on recommendations from an independent data monitoring committee, Kumar said in a report. The committee cut patient enrollment roughly in half and shortened the study to 12 months from 18 months. There have been questions ever since about what led to these changes.
Furthermore, he noted that Novocure’s technology is in a unique position. Immunotherapy has become the standard of care in cancer treatment, surpassing chemotherapy. Novocure’s device has shown superiority over immunotherapy but not chemotherapy. It will be important to investigate how Novocure handled this phenomenon in its registration, he said.
Kumar has a price target of 42 on NVCR stock. He expects the lung cancer market to be worth less than $700 million for Novocure.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.
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