Healthcare Review: Portola Pharmaceuticals, Exact Sciences, RTI Surgical, Isis Pharmaceuticals, Amarin Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 14:41
U.S. stocks surged on Wednesday on optimism that lawmakers, with time running out, would agree on a deal to prevent a U.S. debt default and end a partial federal government shutdown. The gains brought the S&P 500 index within striking distance of the record 1,725 points set on Sept. 18. U.S. lawmakers were preparing a final push to pass legislation to lift the government's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The House of Representatives planned to bring up a Senate measure that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, a House leadership aide told Reuters.

Portola Pharmaceuticals ($PTLA) falls sharply after announcing a $100M public offering.  The deal will reportedly include shares from selling stockholders. The company intends to use a portion of the proceeds to "support the pursuit of an accelerated approval process for Andexanet alfa."

An "erroneous" article published in an Israeli business newspaper on October 8 triggered an unwarranted sell-off in shares of Exact Sciences ($EXAS), creating a buying opportunity, Wedbush says, upgrading EXAS to Outperform from Neutral. "The story remains intact and multiple catalysts line up," analyst Zarak Khurshid notes, adding that EXAS is "off 20% in the last month versus a 5% decline in the BTK index over the same time frame." Price target is $12.

RTI Surgical ($RTIX) slides 5% premarket after announcing preliminary Q3 revenues of $54.7M versus previous guidance of $59-61M.The company blames the shortfall on "uncertainties surrounding when the FDA would provide a [warning letter] close-out, a slower than expected ramp in [the] new direct surgical specialties business, lower than expected volumes in [the] spine business, and lower than projected [international] revenues."

Isis Pharmaceuticals ($ISIS) earns a $10M milestone payment from Biogen ($BIIB) related to the advancement of the antisense drug ISIS-DMPKRx in myotonic dystrophy type I. "We plan to begin human clinical studies next year," ISIS says. BIIB can license the drug through Phase 2, which could result in a license fee to ISIS of up to $200M plus "double-digit royalties" on any sales of the drug.

Nasdaq has halted trading in Amarin ($AMRN) shares ahead of a meeting of an FDA advisory committee that will discus expanding approval of the company's triglyceride Vascepa drug. Amarin received authorization for Vascepa in 2012 for patients with unusually high triglyceride levels; the company is now seeking authorization for using the drug in people with high triglyceride and heart disease who are already receiving a statin drug to try to lower their cholesterol.

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