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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: GlaxoSmithKline, Theravance, Merck, Sanofi and Novartis

CHICAGO, Jan. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Theravance, Inc. (Nasdaq:THRX), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and Novartis (NYSE:NVS).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Glaxo/Theravance Seek European Approval

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Theravance, Inc. (Nasdaq:THRX) recently announced the submission of a marketing application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for their pipeline candidate UMEC/VI (proposed trade name: Anoro). The companies are looking to get the candidate approved in the EU as a maintenance bronchodilator therapy (once daily) to relieve symptoms in adults suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Glaxo/Theravance are also seeking US approval of the candidate for the COPD indication. Last month, the companies announced the submission of a marketing application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking approval of UMEC/VI for the COPD indication.

UMEC/VI is a combination of a long-acting muscarinic antagonist/LAMA (GSK573719 or umeclidinium bromide/UMEC) and a long-acting beta2 agonist/LABA (vilanterol/VI). We note that Glaxo along with Theravance is also developing other COPD candidates including Breo (proposed brand name Relvar in the EU, formerly known as Relovair) and MABA (GSK961081).

We are positive on Theravance's pipeline programs in collaboration with Glaxo. We are also positive on Theravance's cardiovascular deal, inked in October 2012, with a big player like Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK).

Moreover, the deals with Alfa Wassermann and R-Pharm are also encouraging. Earlier in the month, Theravance and Alfa Wassermann announced the commencement of a phase II proof-of-concept study (0093: n~32) to evaluate Theravance's pipeline candidate velusetrag in patients suffering from diabetic or idiopathic gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a disorder of gastrointestinal motility.

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Glaxo, which carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We have a similar stance on Theravance.

Large-cap pharma companies that currently look better-positioned include Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and Novartis (NYSE:NVS). Both companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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