Healthcare Review: Organovo, Progenics, Teva, Medivation, WellPoint Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 15:49
U.S. stocks held their losses Wednesday after the Federal Reserve decided to cut back further on its stimulus efforts, as widely expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 134 points, or 0.8%, to 15796 in recent trading, after being down more than 200 points immediately after the release of the Fed statement. The S&P 500 index gave up 11 points, or 0.7%, to 1780, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 30 points, or 0.7%, to 4068.

Treasury bonds extended a price rally that began earlier in the day amid turbulence in some emerging markets. Gold futures pared gains but remained higher on the day. The dollar strengthened against most major currencies. Many investors see the scaling back of bond purchases as positive for the dollar because the stance of the U.S. central bank contrasts with that of some other central banks, which analysts say are more likely to keep easing to support growth.

Shares of Organovo ($ONVO) continue to surge despite an IBTimes UK report that says research firm Gartner predicts 3D bioprinted human organs will soon become a reality, which could ignite calls to ban the technology. The Gartner report raises moral and ethical questions about whether organs should be printed using non-human cells or a mix of human and non-human cells, and whether there is a difference between this and genetically modified food crops. ONVO, deeply involved in such research, said this morning it has performed its first 3D Liver tissue delivery and expects to begin the commercial launch of its 3D Liver tissue product before year-end.

Progenics ($PGNX) slides 14.5% after the company's abstract for the phase II study of its MIP-1404 imaging agent for identifying and localizing prostate cancer was published online. The summary of conclusions states that "trofolastat (MIP-1404) has accurately detected primary prostate carcinoma within the gland with high sensitivity and specificity in high-risk pts prior to surgery, based on the interim data available." The stock was on a good run from October until mid-January, since when it has been falling.

Teva's ($TEVA) shares are +2.7% in Tel Aviv after the FDA approved a 40 mg dose of the company's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone that would be administered three times a week. Teva now plans to convert 57% of patients to the new regimen by the year-end from the daily dose of 20 mg. The longer-lasting regimen should help Teva cope with generic competition when Copaxone's patent protection expires in May. The higher-dosage version is protected until 2030.

Medivation ($MDVN) +8.2%  after its Xtandi drug for advanced prostate cancer was found to significantly delay progression of the disease and extend survival in a large, late stage study of patients who had not yet received chemotherapy. Xtandi (enzalutamide) already is approved to treat patients whose prostate cancer has spread and who had previously been treated with chemotherapy; approval for use prior to chemo could greatly expand the available patient population, significantly boost sales, and enable the drug to compete with Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Zytiga. Sanford Bernstein says annual Xtandi sales eventually could exceed $3B with a pre-chemo approval.

WellPoint's ($WLP +1.2%) Q4 earnings and revenues failed to beat consensus estimates and its 2014 guidance was below expectations, but shares turned higher after a shaky start thanks to the prospect of new business via Obamacare. WLP said during its earnings call that 500K applications have come through for Affordable Care Act products - ~80% were not previously insured by WLP, so the number signifies real growth - and it expects a burst of applications between now and March 31.

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