Healthcare review: Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Intercept Pharmaceuticals, The Medicines Company, Prana Biotechnology, Apricus Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Monday, 10 February 2014 13:56
U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday, on the heels of the S&P 500's best two-day performance in four months and ahead of new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's first testimony before lawmakers on Tuesday. The benchmark S&P 500 rallied Friday for the index's first weekly gain in the past four, as investors looked past a disappointing payrolls report. Despite the soft payrolls data, affected partly by frigid weather, the Federal Reserve is largely expected to continue its efforts to scale back its stimulus.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals ($ALXN) moves higher after Deutsche Bank raises its price target on the stock to $205 from $125, believing the market for Asfotase Alfa for severe hypophosphatasia is larger than Wall Street expectations. The firm sees a ~$1.6B opportunity for Asfotase Alfa, and given the patient mix, it thinks its assumptions could be conservative in its assumption that the blended average price per patient over time is ~$200K since it is below Myozyme ($600K) pricing.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals ($ICPT) rises after Wedbush Morgan hikes its target price on the shares to $493, projecting gross annual peak sales of the company's OCA (obeticholic acid) treatment for alcoholic hepatitis could surpass $3B worldwide. ICPT is supporting a phase 2 trial treating 60 patients with alcoholic hepatitis beginning in March; prevalence estimates for AH are 10%-35% of alcoholics, or 2.4M-8.4M U.S. patients.

The Medicines Company ($MDCO) is under pressure after negative comments from the FDA ahead of this week's adcomm on Cangrelor, but Summer Street's Bart Classen says the drug will be a commercial failure even if approved. "The FDA, like our experts, had criticized the pivotal Phoenix trial because Plavix was given too late in the control group to optimize its benefit," writes Classen. "The product will be much more expensive than comparable agents with no superiority in efficacy or safety."

Prana Biotechnology (PRAN) plunges following negative comments from Sumner Street analyst Bart Classen, who isn't impressed with data from PRAN's PBT2 treatment for Alzheimer's and Huntington’s diseases. Although a 12-week trial showed improvement in some components of the neuropsychological test battery, the firm believes the results are not statistically significant when one adjusts for using multiple endpoints and is skeptical that the results will add clarity to the question of efficacy in Alzheimer's patients.

Apricus' ($APRI) shares gain 8% after the company signs an exclusive licensing agreement with Italy's Recordati (RCDTF) to market Apricus' Vitaros cream for erectile dysfunction in Spain, Russia, Turkey, Ireland and other European countries, and in some African markets. Apricus will receive $3.8M up front, as much as $47M in sales milestone payments and royalties.


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