Healthcare Review: Novavax, Tonix Pharmaceuticals, Mannkind, Idera Pharmaceuticals, Conatus Pharmaceuticals Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 19 August 2013 13:54
The S&P 500 and Dow stock gauges were little changed on Monday, with investors reluctant to make new bets because the Federal Reserve is expected to begin slowing its stimulus, while the Nasdaq composite index rose on large-cap technology shares. The Fed's policy of buying large amounts of bonds in an attempt to keep interest rates low has been credited with fueling the stock market's solid gains in 2013. But many analysts expect that to change at the Fed's September policy meeting.

 Novavax (NVAX) gains on renewed optimism that the company may announce positive news on its Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Vaccine at its annual Analyst Day on September 24.Last week Lazard upped its price target on the shares to $11, saying the vaccine was "one of the more under-appreciated assets in the industry." The firm thinks NVAX's drug could be more effective than its competitor, Synagis. Additionally, Italian veterinary authorities have reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza at a commercial poultry farm in Emilia-Romagna, an administrative region in Northern Italy.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals (TNXP) reverses early gains to trade lower today, despite posting results from its nonclinical studies of cyclobenzaprine, the active ingredient of its lead candidate, TNX-102 sublingual tablet, at the International Pain Society's Ninth World Congress on Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome in Seattle, Washington. The company notes that cyclobenzaprine exerts multiple effects on serotonergic and adrenergic neurotransmission, and that TNX-102 SL exerts pharmacological effects distinct from those exerted by products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the management of fibromyalgia and PTSD.

Shares of Mannkind (MNKD) get a bounce this morning off a positive Seeking Alpha blog noting that despite the voracity of the selloff over the past two days - a 33% discount to the 52-week high set just two days earlier - the company is well positioned for long-term growth.SA contributor George Rho says most of the noise currently driving the stock's volatility is being churned up by short sellers and "every Tom, Dick, and Harry - George, too" self-ordained internet pundit with a platform that allows them to reach a worldwide audience. Rho says management is correct in focusing its attention on the important business of preparing the NDA for Afrezza and securing the optimum marketing partner, rather than responding to what he considers ridiculous comments and allegations emanating from various corners.

Idera Pharmaceuticals (IDRA) slips back, but nevertheless remains solidly higher after soaring over 40% at the open on heavy volume.There was no specific news driver to move the shares. On Thursday, the company posted a Q2 net loss of $5.6M, or $0.15 per share. Its lead candidate in development is IMO-8400, for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The drug is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 trial in patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

Stifel starts Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT -0.9%) at Buy with a $16 price target, representing a 72% upside from Friday's close. "We believe emricasan, the company's lead (and only) product candidate, leverages a historically well-validated mechanism of action (caspase inhibition) that is biologically relevant across an entire spectrum of liver-mediated disorders," analyst Stephen Willey says.

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