Healthcare Review: Inovio Pharma, Questcor, Catamaran, Cell Therapeutics, Illumina Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 16:28
Stocks were moving between small gains and losses in morning trading Thursday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen addressed the Senate Banking Committee. Investors were also looking over quarterly results from several U.S. retailers and other companies. Best Buy and J.C. Penney were among the early gainers. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up one point, or less than 0.1 percent, at 1,846 as of 11 a.m. ET. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,210. The Nasdaq composite rose seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,299.

Inovio Pharma ($INO) priced its 18.97M share secondary at $2.90 each for gross proceeds of about $55M. The underwriter greenshoe option is for another 2.8M shares. The stock's been in a range of $3.20-$3.48 on the session, and is currently at $3.39.

Though Catamaran ($CTRX) beat Q4 estimates, it's guiding for 2014 EPS of $2.04-$2.19, below a $2.41 consensus. Revenue is expected to be in a range of $20B-$21B vs. a $20.2B consensus. The PBM services giant's gross margin fell 80 bps Y/Y in Q4 to 7.2%. Moreover, while revenue (boosted by the Restat acquisition) rose 36% Y/Y, EBITDA only rose 24% to $182M.Catamaran ended Q4 with $419M in cash, and $1.27B in debt.

Though Questcor ($QCOR) claims the hormone corticotropin (ACTH) is "believed" to be the primary active ingredient in its Acthar gel, lab tests of at least two separate Acthar batches turned up "almost no detectable ACTH," says Citron Research in a new 24-page report (.pdf). Citron, which has published portions of the lab's findings (tests are ongoing), says the test results have been submitted to the FDA. The firm notes Questcor's manufacturing chief/CTO is being transitioned to a "non-executive advisory role," and that the company has been cryptic about Acthar's precise composition (referring to it as a "trade secret").

U.K. health-cost regulator NICE has given a final recommendation for the use of Cell Therapeutics' ($CTIC) Pixuvri for treating advanced B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cell Therapeutics now hopes that NHS commissioners "will recognize the lack of suitable treatment options that exist for patients at this stage of the disease and list Pixuvri on hospital formularies as soon as possible." Cell Therapeutics expects to launch Pixuvri in England and Wales in the spring.

Illumina's ($ILMN) cell-free DNA testing technology was more accurate than traditional techniques in diagnosing Down syndrome and Edwards syndrome. The false-positive rate of Illumina's cfDNA product was 0.3% for Down syndrome vs 3.6% for standard screening, and 0.2% for Edwards vs 0.6%.The study could lead to the testing in expectant mothers beyond only those considered at high risk for having babies with Down and Edwards syndromes.

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