Healthcare Review: Prana Biotechnology, InVivo Therapeutics, Cell Therapeutics, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Akorn Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Friday, 15 November 2013 15:49
Investors stayed upbeat Friday, pushing U.S. stock indexes deeper into record territory. Stocks were headed for a third straight close at all-time highs as investors assessed the prospect for further economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 is on track for its sixth straight week of gains, part of an impressive rise this year. The index is up 25.6 percent so far. If it ends 2013 with a gain that big it would be the best performance in a decade. Several factors have been driving the market higher this year. The Federal Reserve has kept up its extraordinary efforts to stimulate the economy.

Prana Biotechnology ($PRAN) rises on heavy volume. The move is perhaps attributable to a news story which indirectly mentioned the investigational Alzheimer's treatment PBT2.At one point, the results of IMAGINE (data due in March of next year) are described as "incredible." For its part, the company has the following to say about the story: Prana was not aware of the segment and did not participate in the segment. The clinical benefit, if any, of PBT2 compared to a placebo will not be known until treatment assignment is un-blinded and the trial data analyzed."

InVivo Therapeutics ($NVIV) issues a PR saying its degradable polymer scaffold trial will "be ready to enroll patients in Q1 2014."The company also says it "will submit a filing containing proposed changes to its FDA-approved protocol and supporting documents within the next ten days."NVIV thinks the changes, if approved, would "accelerate the progress of [the] trial by eliminating barriers to enrollment and by expanding the number of sites from at least three to as many as six."

Cell Therapeutics ($CTIC) and Baxter ($BAX) enter into a licensing agreement for the development and commercialization of pacritinib (the JAK2/FLT3 inhibitor that's currently in Phase 3 testing for myelofibrosis).Terms: Upfront payment to CTIC of $60M, $30M of which is an equity investment; CTIC eligible for milestone payments up to $112M and sales milestone payments assuming approval; CTIC gets royalties on sales outside the U.S., where BAX has assumed commercialization rights; the two companies will jointly commercialize the drug in the U.S.BAX will book a $30M pre-tax R&D charge in Q4.

It's been a good week for shares of Vanda Pharmaceuticals ($VNDA) as both FDA staff and Ad Com panel members have smiled on the company's Non-24-Hour Disorder treatment tasimelteon. The shares are up 14% premarket. If the gains carry over into regular trading, VNDA will have risen nearly 120% since Monday. For perspective: As of Wednesday's close (the shares were halted on Thursday), the stock's gains since September 3 are just 8%.

Niche generic maker Akorn ($AKRX) rises after announcing the acquisition of the U.S. rights to AzaSite, COSOPT, COSOPT PF (they're all eye drop solutions) from Merck (MRK +0.3%) for $52.8M.The move "further expands [our] position as a leader in U.S. ophthalmology products," AKRX CEO Raj Rai says. For MRK, the deal is consistent with its "ongoing strategy to sharpen commercial focus and improve operational effectiveness."




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