Healthcare Review: InterMune, TherapeuticsMD, MEI Pharma, Synta Pharmaceuticals, MannKind Pharmaceuticals Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Friday, 10 January 2014 14:27
U.S. stocks were little changed in volatile trading on Friday as a weaker-than-expected payrolls report was partly blamed on frigid weather, leaving traders in search of further clues on the state of the economy. Equity futures sharply pared gains after data showed U.S. employers hired only 74,000 workers in December, the smallest increase since January 2011. The data setback was likely to be temporary, however, amid signs the number of hires may have been affected by cold weather conditions.

Stifel lifts its price target on InterMune ($ITMN) to $23 from $20."We've adjusted our model to include peak U.S. Esbriet sales of approximately $900M," says analyst Stephen Willey, who notes that the estimate "is based on some fairly conservative pricing ($65K/year at launch) and peak penetration (20-25%) estimates." Willey also likes the probability of success in ASCEND.

"New data will provide a measure of blood concentration compared to the referenced listed drug VagiFem," Noble Financial's Nathan Cali says, referencing TherapeuticsMD's ($TXMD +9.2%)  bio-identical 17ß-estradiol and progesterone candidate, TX 12-001HR.The analyst says the company likely has enough cash to last until FDA approval. Buy rating and $7.25 target maintained.

Brean starts MEI Pharma ($MEIP) at Buy, citing "Pracinostat’s expected peak revenue of $700M in two indications, MDS and AML." With several Phase 2 trials in the works, analyst Gene Mack sees "the commercial launch of Pracinostat in 2017/2018 contributing $12/share to valuation." Price target is $16, representing upside of ~104% from Thursday's close.

Roth Capital is out with some positive commentary on Synta Pharmaceuticals ($SNTA) following the announcement of new clinical trials for ganetespib. "We continue to look towards interim analysis from the GALAXY-2 trial in NSCLC in H2 and top-line data in H1 2015," analyst Joseph Pantginis says, adding that "as the ganetespib profile continues to broaden, [he] continues to believe that the drug is ripe for a partnership in the relative near term." Price target is $27, representing upside of 295% from Thursday's close.

MannKind Pharmaceuticals ($MNKD) trades lower by 11% after the company says an Afrezza Ad Com has been tentatively scheduled for April 1.Also not helping matters is The Street's Adam Feuerstein, who had the following to say today about the inhaled insulin product's chances for approval: "The results from the two phase 3 studies announced this summer were barely passable [and] we still don't know, exactly, how the current 'Dreamboat' inhaler performed relative to the older Medtone inhaler." "None of the Afrezza data have been presented at a medical meeting or published," Feuerstein notes, adding that while he "absolutely" could be wrong about the drug's chances, "there's certainly precedent for an Afrezza rejection. Two, actually."

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