Health Care, Biotech Stocks Dodge Market Selloff

Several health care and biotechnology stocks have been tracked that escaped to another dimension and avoided Monday’s indiscriminate selloff triggered by a renewed plunge in crude oil prices.

The share price of Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc skyrocketed 24.35% on heavy volume Monday as investors cheered some early good news contained in a statement that it will report top-line results from three clinical trials of its lead investigational compound Emricasan in patients with varying degrees of organ impairment. The company is set to release results from a Phase 2 trial in patients with a condition called acute-on-chronic liver failure, a Phase 1 trial in patients with mild, moderate and severe hepatic impairment, and a Phase 1 trial in patients with severe renal impairment after the closing bell on Thursday, January 8, 2015.

ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Inc hit an all-time high after Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc up to $835 million for the option to license three drugs targeting autoimmune disorders of the gastrointestinal tract using Isis’ RNA-targeting platform. Under the terms of the agreement, $35 million will be paid to ISIS in an upfront payment which also will be eligible for almost $800M in development, regulatory and sales milestones and license fees.

Once a candidate is identified , the partnership gives Janssen Biotech the option to license a drug from each of the programs.

“This collaboration broadens the utility of our drug discovery technology to new targets in the GI tract and expands the administration of anti-sense drugs to local delivery, including oral delivery, to the gut,” said Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis, in the company’s press release. “We are the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics and our innovation and the successes of our pipeline drugs enable us to form collaborations, like this one, with leaders in specific therapeutic areas. This partnering strategy ensures that we have access to resources that support and enhance our drug discovery efforts and also provides us with collaborators, like Janssen, who are uniquely capable of conducting development, marketing and commercial efforts for these drugs.”

Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) was on the rise as analysts at J.P. Morgan raised their rating on the stock to overweight from neutral after it underperformed rivals in 2014. “After an extended period of underperformance, we view our liability and litigation concerns as largely priced in and expect performance to improve materially in the months ahead as investors anticipate (1) a strong 2015 and (2) an even better 2016 driven by new products and significant margin expansion,” analysts wrote in a note.

Protalix BioTherapeutics climbed higher after disclosing its plan to accelerate its growth by shifting focus on bio-better products with potentially clinically superior profiles that offer a clear competitive advantage including PRX-102 for Fabry disease, PRX-106 for inflammatory bowel disease, PRX-110 for cystic fibrosis and PRX-112 for Gaucher disease.

Hot biotech IPO Kite Pharma marked new record high after entering into agreement with Amgen valued at about $585 million, whereby, they are going to develop the next generation of Kite’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies for cancer. Amgen will supply the targets and will pay $60 million upfront and almost $525 million subject to products approval. After release, Kite will be eligible to “tiered single-digit sales royalties,” the companies said. Kite’s current lead drug KTE-CD19 is not included in the deal and covers only novel drug candidates.

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