Horizon Therapeutics sold for $28.3 billion

Amgen to acquire Horizon Therapeutics for $116.50 per share in cash

The board of directors of Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP) and the board of directors of Amgen (AMGN) announced that they have reached agreement on the terms of a cash offer for the company by Pillartree, a newly formed private limited company wholly owned by Amgen, which is unanimously recommended by the company board and pursuant to which acquirer sub will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of the company.

Under the terms of the acquisition, each company shareholder at the Scheme Record Time will be entitled to receive: $116.50 for each Company Share in cash.

The acquisition represents: a premium of approximately 47.9% to the closing price of $78.76 per company share on November 29 and a premium of approximately 19.7% to the closing price of $97.29 per company share on December 9.

The acquisition values the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of the company at approximately $27.8B on a fully diluted basis and implies an enterprise value of approximately $28.3B.

Amgen has entered into a Bridge Credit Agreement, dated December 12, for an aggregate amount of $28.5B.

Having taken into account the relevant factors and applicable risks, the company board, which has been so advised by Morgan Stanley, which as financial advisor to the company board has rendered a fairness opinion, considers the terms of the acquisition as set out in this announcement to be fair and reasonable.

In providing its advice to the company board, Morgan Stanley has taken into account the commercial assessments of the company directors.

The company board has unanimously determined that the transaction agreement and the transactions, including the scheme, are advisable for, fair to and in the best interests of, the company shareholders.

Accordingly, the company board unanimously recommends that company shareholders vote in favor of the scheme meeting resolution and the Required EGM Resolutions, or, if the acquisition is implemented by a takeover offer, accept or procure acceptance of such takeover offer.

It is agreed that the acquisition will be implemented by way of an Irish High Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement under Chapter 1 of Part 9 of the Irish Companies Act.

The acquisition will be subject to the satisfaction or waiver of the conditions, which are set out in full in Appendix 3 to this announcement, including, in summary: the requisite approval by company shareholders of the scheme meeting resolution and the required EGM Resolutions; the sanction of the scheme by the Irish High Court and the receipt of required antitrust clearances in the United States, Austria and Germany and the receipt of required foreign investment clearances in France, Germany, Denmark and Italy.

It is expected that the scheme document, containing further information about the acquisition and notices of the scheme meeting and the EGM, the expected timetable for completion and action to be taken by company shareholders, will be published as soon as practicable.

It is anticipated that the scheme will, subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, be declared effective in the first half of 2023. An expected timetable of key events relating to the acquisition will be provided in the scheme document.

Horizon Therapeutics Public Limited Company is an Irish biotechnology company, It focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of medicines that address critical needs for people impacted by rare, autoimmune, and severe inflammatory diseases. Its portfolio comprises 12 medicines in the areas of rare diseases, gout, ophthalmology, and inflammation.

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Prometheus Biosciences reports positive data, shares jump!

Prometheus announces results for PRA023 in APOLLO-CD Phase 2 study

Prometheus Biosciences (RXDX) reported results from its ARTEMIS-UC Phase 2 and APOLLO-CD Phase 2a studies of PRA023 demonstrating strong efficacy and favorable safety results in both studies.

Based on the totality of the data in these two studies, Prometheus intends to advance PRA023 into Phase 3 studies for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in 2023.

Results from the APOLLO-CD Phase 2a Study: Prometheus’ Phase 2a APOLLO-CD clinical trial was a 12-week open-label study that enrolled 55 patients with moderate-to-severely active CD with endoscopically active disease who had failed conventional or biologic therapy.

Crohn’s Disease

The study enrolled a highly refractory patient population with 70.9% of patients previously treated with at least one biologic therapy and 52.7% treated with two or more biologic therapies.

The results on the key endpoints were as follows: 26.0% of patients on PRA023 achieved endoscopic response; 49.1% of patients on PRA023 achieved clinical remission; PRA023 was well tolerated in the APOLLO-CD study.

There were no treatment-emergent serious adverse events, adverse events leading to discontinuation, or severe AEs assessed as related to PRA023 by the investigator.

The predictive power of the company’s prespecified genetic markers was validated using an alternative Crohn’s-specific CDx algorithm which showed 45.0% endoscopic response relative to all-comers of 26%.

While the original algorithm provided limited benefit on some of the endpoints, the alternative algorithm demonstrated enhanced performance across both clinical and endoscopic outcomes.

As a result of these positive data, Prometheus plans to advance PRA023 into pivotal development in 2023, following discussions with regulators.

Based upon confidence in its precision approach and speed to market, the company conducted an interim companion diagnostic (CDx) analysis of Cohort 1 to evaluate the effectiveness of the CDx candidate in ARTEMIS-UC. Although from limited patient numbers, data from the subset of patients who tested positive on the CDx in Cohort 1 (N=32) demonstrated a placebo-adjusted clinical remission rate of 37.5%, compared with the placebo-adjusted remission rate of 25.0% for all-comers. The expansion cohort (Cohort 2), which is statistically powered to further assess the treatment effect of PRA023 in CDx+ patients will continue to enroll, and the company expects results in the second quarter of 2023.

RXDX is up $17 to $112.86.

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Mirati Theraputics shares jump on take over rumors!

Mirati Therapeutics shares are up 20% on heavy trading volume

Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) is attracting fresh takeover interest from large pharma companies, sources tell Bloomberg’s Michelle Davis and Dinesh Nair.

Mirati Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage oncology company. It develops product candidates to address the genetic and immunological promoters of cancer in the United States.

The company develops MRTX849, a KRAS G12C inhibitor, which is in Phase 1/2 clinical trial for treating non-small cell lung (NSCL), colorectal, pancreatic, and other cancers; and Sitravatinib, an investigational spectrum-selective kinase inhibitor that is in Phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of NSCL cancer, as well as a KRAS G12D inhibitor program, which is in preclinical development. It has a collaboration and license agreement with BeiGene, Ltd. to develop, manufacture, and commercialize sitravatinib.

Sitravatinib

Sitravatinib (MGCD516) is an orally-available, small molecule inhibitor of a closely related spectrum of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) including MET, TAM (Tyro3, AXL, MERTK) family, VEGFR family, PDGFR family, KIT, FLT3, TRK family, RET, DDR2, and selected EPH family members. Nivolumab is a human IgG monoclonal antibody that binds to the PD-1 receptor and selectively blocks the interaction with its ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby releasing PD-1 pathway mediated inhibition of the immune response, including anti-tumor immune response. RTKs have been implicated in mediating an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, which has emerged as a potential resistance mechanism to checkpoint inhibitor therapy. Inhibition of these RTKs by sitravatinib may augment anti-tumor immune response and improve outcomes by overcoming resistance to checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

On November 8th, Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX) reported a 3rd Quarter September 2022 loss of $3.09 per share on revenue of $5.4 million. The consensus estimate was a loss of $3.46 per share on revenue of $4.6 million.

The stock has a 52-week trading range of $32.96 to $154.17. Shares last traded at $89.50.

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Eisai reports positive Alzheimer data, shares jump!

Biogen/Eisai’s phase 3 trial of lecanemab in MCI meet primary endpoint

Eisai (ESALY) and Biogen (BIIB) “announced positive topline results from Eisai’s large global Phase 3 confirmatory Clarity AD clinical trial of lecanemab, an investigational anti-amyloid beta protofibril antibody for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, AD, and mild AD with confirmed presence of amyloid pathology in the brain.

#Lecanemab met the primary endpoint and all key secondary endpoints with highly statistically significant results.

#Eisai will discuss this data with regulatory authorities in the U.S., Japan and Europe with the aim to file for traditional approval in the US and for marketing authorization applications in Japan and Europe by the end of Eisai’s FY2022, which ends March 31, 2023.

Amyloid-related imaging abnormalities

Additionally, Eisai will present the Clarity AD study results on November 29, 2022, at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Congress, and publish the findings in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Lecanemab treatment met the primary endpoint and reduced clinical decline on the global cognitive and functional scale, CDR-SB, compared with placebo at 18 months by 27%, which represents a treatment difference in the score change of -0.45 in the analysis of Intent-to-treat population.

Starting as early as six months, across all time points, the treatment showed highly statistically significant changes in CDR-SB from baseline compared to placebo.

All key secondary endpoints were also met with highly statistically significant results compared with placebo.

Key secondary endpoints were the change from baseline at 18 months compared with placebo of treatment in amyloid levels in the brain measured by amyloid positron emission tomography, the AD Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale14, AD Composite Score and the AD Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living Scale for Mild Cognitive Impairment.”

ESALY last traded at $39.79. BIIB last traded at $197.50.

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Altimmune announces positive results, shares tumble!

 Altimmune announces results from Phase 1b study of pemvidutide

Altimmune (ALT) announced “positive” topline results from its 12-week Phase 1b study of pemvidutide in subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

NAFLD. The trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, with Dr. Stephen A. Harrison, Medical Director, Pinnacle Research, serving as the Principal Investigator.

The primary efficacy endpoint was the percent reduction in liver fat content from baseline, and the key secondary efficacy endpoint was the % weight loss from baseline, both at 12 weeks of treatment.

The trial was conducted without adjunctive diet and exercise interventions that are the standard for obesity trials.

Ninety-four subjects were randomized and treated at 13 sites across the U.S.

Mean BMI at baseline was approximately 36 kg/m2 and mean liver fat content, as measured by MRI-PDFF, was approximately 22%.

Twenty-seven subjects had type 2 diabetes at baseline, and approximately 75% of study subjects were of Hispanic ethnicity.

The trial met its primary endpoint in all pemvidutide treatment groups.

At the 1.8 mg dose, pemvidutide achieved a mean reduction of liver fat content of 68.5%, with 94.4% of subjects achieving a 30% reduction in liver fat, 72.2% achieving a 50% reduction in liver fat, and 55.6% of subjects achieving normalization of liver fat, defined as liver fat fraction of 5% or less.

In addition, mean serum alanine aminotransferase levels declined in all subjects, and in subjects with baseline serum ALT above 30 IU/L, levels declined more than 17 IU/L at all dose levels and 27.0 IU/L in the 2.4 mg dose cohort.

The trial also met its key secondary endpoint in all pemvidutide treatment groups. Employing an efficacy estimand, mean weight losses of 4.9% in subjects without diabetes and 4.4% in subjects with diabetes were achieved at the 1.8 and 2.4 mg doses, respectively.

Pemvidutide was reported to be generally well tolerated. Gastrointestinal events comprised the majority of the adverse events.

Even without dose titration, the symptoms experienced by subjects were predominantly mild and transient in nature, consistent with known GLP-1 class effects.

“We are pleased with the results of this trial, including the extent of liver fat and serum ALT reductions. Weight loss was within our target range, and good tolerability was observed without the need for dose titration. In addition, no clinically significant ALT elevations were observed,” said Vipin Garg,, President and Chief Executive Officer of Altimmune.

“With these positive results in hand, we look forward to reporting data from the 24-week NAFLD trial, as well as 24-week interim data from our MOMENTUM obesity trial.”

ALT shares opened down 58%, now down 25.5% to $15.21.

Piper Sandler

Piper Sandler analyst Yasmeen Rahimi said she is surprised to see the negative pre-market stock reaction in shares of Altimmune (ALT) after the company announced topline results from its 12-week Phase 1b study. She thinks it may be attributed to the 4.7% weight-loss which came in below Street’s expectations. However, the analyst points out that this measure is in alignment with the 6% placebo adjusted seen with Eli Lilly’s (LLY) tirzepatide and 4% placebo adjusted weight loss with Novo Nordisk’s (NVO) semaglutide at 12 weeks. Rahimi, who calls the study a “big win with a clean safety profile,” believes that the stock reaction due to weight loss percentage is “overdone” and argues that the totality of data “suggests that pemvidutide could be a serious player in the obesity/NASH space.” Rahimi has an Overweight rating and $25 price target on Altimmune shares.

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Great News for Thalassemia patients

Bluebird Bio confirms FDA approval of Zynteglo

bluebird bio (BLUE) announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Zynteglo, also known as beti-cel, a one-time gene therapy custom-designed to treat the underlying genetic cause of beta-thalassemia in adult and pediatric patients who require regular red blood cell transfusions.

“Due to the complex nature of gene therapy, Zynteglo will be available exclusively at Qualified Treatment Centers, which are carefully selected based on their expertise in relevant areas such as stem cell transplantation, cell and gene therapy, and beta-thalassemia; and receive specialized training to administer Zynteglo.

Information on bluebird’s QTC network, as well as personalized support focused on the needs of each patient throughout their treatment journey and information on insurance coverage and access will be available through bluebird’s patient support program,” the company stated.

“The FDA approval of Zynteglo offers people with beta-thalassemia the possibility of freedom from burdensome regular red blood cell transfusions and iron chelation, and unlocks new possibilities in their daily lives.

Current thalassemia treatment

After more than a decade of research and clinical development, and through the perseverance of clinicians, patients, and their families, the approval of Zynteglo marks a watershed moment for the field of gene therapy.

As the first ex-vivo lentiviral vector gene therapy approved in the U.S. for the treatment of people with beta-thalassemia, we are ushering in a new era in which gene therapy has the potential to transform existing treatment paradigms for diseases that currently carry a lifelong burden of care,” said Andrew Obenshain, CEO of bluebird bio. 

Expensive Treatment

The lifetime cost of medical care for a patient with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia can reach up to $6.4M in the U.S. and the average total health care cost per patient per year is 23 times higher than the general population. bluebird estimates that there are approximately 1,300-1,500 individuals with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia in the U.S.

” bluebird has set the wholesale acquisition cost of Zynteglo in the U.S. at $2.8M, in “recognition of its robust and sustained clinical benefit demonstrated in clinical studies and its potential to alleviate a lifetime of health care costs associated with regular RBC transfusions and iron management.” Tom Klima, chief commercial and operating officer of bluebird bio, said.

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Global Blood Therapeutics sold for $5.4 billion

Pfizer to acquire Global Blood Therapeutics for $68.50 per share in cash

Pfizer (PFE) and Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) announced the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Pfizer will acquire GBT, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and delivery of life-changing treatments that provide hope to underserved patient communities, starting with sickle cell disease.

Under the terms of the transaction, Pfizer will acquire all the outstanding shares of GBT for $68.50 per share in cash, for a total enterprise value of approximately $5.4B, including debt and net of cash acquired.

The Boards of Directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction. Pfizer expects to finance the transaction with existing cash on hand.

The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by GBT’s stockholders.

Due to the proposed transaction, GBT will not hold its previously scheduled conference call to discuss its second quarter 2022 financial results. The company will file its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ending June 30, 2022 with the U.S. SEC announcing those results on August 8.

Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, engages in the discovery, development, and delivery of treatments for underserved patient communities with sickle cell disease (SCD). The company offers Oxbryta tablets, an oral, once-daily therapy for SCD.

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Biohaven sold for $11.6B

Pfizer to acquire Biohaven Pharmaceuticals for $148.50 per share

Pfizer (PFE) and Biohaven Pharmaceutical (BHVN) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Pfizer will acquire Biohaven, the maker of NURTEC ODT, a dual-acting migraine therapy approved for both acute treatment and episodic prevention of migraine in adults.

Pfizer buys the migraine drug

Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will acquire all outstanding shares of Biohaven not already owned by Pfizer for $148.50 per share in cash.

Biohaven common shareholders, including Pfizer, will also receive 0.5 of a share of New Biohaven, a new publicly traded company that will retain Biohaven’s non-CGRP development stage pipeline compounds, per Biohaven common share.

The boards of directors of both Biohaven and Pfizer have unanimously approved the transaction.

Pfizer will pay transaction consideration totaling approximately $11.6B in cash.

Pfizer will also make payments at closing to settle Biohaven’s third party debt and for the redemption of all outstanding shares of Biohaven’s redeemable preferred stock.

Pfizer shares lower after talk with President prompts rollback, Stockwinners

The $148.50 cash consideration represents a premium of approximately 33% to Biohaven’s volume weighted average selling price of $111.70 over the three months prior to the announcement of the transaction.

This agreement follows on the November 9, 2021 collaboration for the commercialization of rimegepant and zavegepant outside the United States, in connection with which Pfizer invested $350M to acquire 2.6% of Biohaven’s common stock at $173 per share.

Following the closing, New Biohaven will continue to operate under the Biohaven name.

New Biohaven will be led by Vlad Coric, MD, as Chairman and CEO, and include other members of the current management team of Biohaven.

Biohaven common shareholders will receive, for each Biohaven share, 0.5 of a share of New Biohaven distributed via a pro rata distribution of SEC-registered, publicly listed shares. At distribution, New Biohaven will be capitalized with $275M of cash.

New Biohaven will also have the right to receive tiered royalties from Pfizer on any annual net sales of rimegepant and zavegepant in the United States in excess of $5.25B.

Pfizer expects to finance the transaction with existing cash on hand. Pfizer’s acquisition of Biohaven is subject to the completion of the New Biohaven spin-off transaction and other customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by Biohaven’s shareholders.

The companies expect the transaction to close by early 2023.

Due to the proposed transaction, Biohaven will not hold a conference call to discuss its first quarter 2022 financial results and will issue a press release and file a quarterly report on Form 10-Q with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announcing those results on May 10, the companies noted.

BHVN is up $58.08 to $141.22.

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Jazz Pharma. provides guidance, shares rise!

Jazz Pharmaceuticals announces $5B revenue target for 2025

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) announced its Vision 2025 to deliver sustainable growth and enhanced value.

Vision 2025 includes the following expectations: 1) generating $5B in revenue in 2025; 2) approval of at least five additional novel products by the end of the decade; and 3) realizing a 5% adjusted operating margin improvement from 2021 to 2025, driven by operational excellence.

The company also confirmed that it expects to meet its previously announced 2021 revenue guidance range of $3.02B-$3.1B and its net product sales guidance for neuroscience and oncology.

Jazz ended 2021 demonstrating executional excellence across its business, including launching five key products in 2020 and 2021, integrating the GW Pharmaceuticals business, making progress towards its deleveraging target and initiating multiple potentially registrational clinical trials.

The company remains on track to deliver revenue diversification, with at least 65% of 2022 net product revenue from newly launched or acquired products, driving sustainable growth and enhanced shareholder value.

“Building on our track record of strong execution and guided by our patient-centric approach, Jazz is setting forth its Vision 2025 to deliver meaningful treatment options to patients, a great place to work for employees and significant value to shareholders,” said Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

“Jazz’s leadership in sleep and rare epilepsy with Xywav and Epidiolex, respectively, coupled with promising new oncology products like Zepzelca and Rylaze, have led to the rapid transformation of our revenue base.

We are further poised to enter new disease areas with serious unmet patient need and substantial market potential, including movement disorders and PTSD, with our mid-to late-stage assets nabiximols, suvecaltamide and JZP150.

We expect our continued operational excellence to drive a five-percentage point improvement in our adjusted operating margin from 2021 to 2025, and we are confident in our ability to continue to leverage strategic capital allocation to grow our business.”

In Monday’s trading shares of JAZZ are up $10.49 to $144.91.

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AbbVie’s antidepressant achieves positive results

AbbVie’s cariprazine met primary endpoint in Phase 3 study

AbbVie (ABBV) announced top-line results from two Phase 3 clinical trials, Study 3111-301-001 and Study 3111-302-001, evaluating the efficacy and safety of cariprazine as an adjunctive treatment for patients with major depressive disorder.

Cariprazine, sold under the brand names Vraylar in the United States and Reagila in the European Union, is an atypical antipsychotic which is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and bipolar depression.

Drug pipeline looks very promising for Abbvie

In Study 3111-301-001, cariprazine showed a statistically significant change from baseline to week six in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale total score compared with placebo.

The Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) is a ten-item diagnostic questionnaire which psychiatrists use to measure the severity of depressive episodes in patients with mood disorders. 

Patients treated with cariprazine at 1.5 mg/day achieved improved MADRS total score at week six compared to placebo.

Patients treated with cariprazine at 3.0 mg/day demonstrated improvement in MADRS total score at week six over placebo but did not meet statistical significance.

In Study 3111-302-001, cariprazine demonstrated numerical improvement in depressive symptoms from baseline to week six in MADRS total score compared with placebo but did not meet its primary endpoint for either the 1.5 mg/day or 3.0 mg/day dose.

In a previously published Phase 2/3 registration-enabling study, RGH-MD-75, patients treated with cariprazine flexible doses of 2.0-4.5 mg/day in addition to ongoing antidepressant therapy met the primary endpoint and achieved improved MADRS total scores at week eight compared to placebo.

Based on the positive results of studies 3111-301-001 and RGH-MD-75, and the totality of data reported, AbbVie intends to submit a supplemental New Drug Application with the U.S. FDA for the expanded use of cariprazine for the adjunctive treatment of MDD.

Separately, AbbVie reported Q3 Global Humira sales of $5.425B up 5.6% on reported basis.

In Q3, Global net revenues from the immunology portfolio were $6.674 billion, an increase of 15.3 percent on a reported basis, or 14.9 percent on an operational basis.

Global Humira net revenues of $5.425 billion increased 5.6 percent on a reported basis, or 5.2 percent on an operational basis.

U.S. Humira net revenues were $4.613 billion, an increase of 10.1 percent.

Internationally, Humira net revenues were $812 million, a decrease of 14.6 percent on a reported basis, or 16.7 percent on an operational basis, due to biosimilar competition.

Treatment for Psoriasis

Global Skyrizi net revenues were $796 million. Global Rinvoq net revenues were $453 million.

Treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis

ABBV is up $5 to $114.70.

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FDA Approves Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug

FDA approves Biogen Alzheimer’s drug, says benefits outweigh risks

The FDA approved Biogen’s (BIIB) Aduhelm to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“This approval is significant in many ways. Aduhelm is the first novel therapy approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003.

Perhaps more significantly, Aduhelm is the first treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, the presence of amyloid beta plaques in the brain.

The clinical trials for Aduhelm were the first to show that a reduction in these plaques – a hallmark finding in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s – is expected to lead to a reduction in the clinical decline of this devastating form of dementia,” the FDA said in a statement.

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly is a partner with Biogen

It added, “We ultimately decided to use the Accelerated Approval pathway – a pathway intended to provide earlier access to potentially valuable therapies for patients with serious diseases where there is an unmet need, and where there is an expectation of clinical benefit despite some residual uncertainty regarding that benefit.

Brain of an Alzheimer patient

In determining that the application met the requirements for Accelerated Approval, the Agency concluded that the benefits of Aduhelm for patients with Alzheimer’s disease outweighed the risks of the therapy.”

The FDA said in its approval statement: “Additionally, FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct a post-approval clinical trial to verify the drug’s clinical benefit. If the drug does not work as intended, we can take steps to remove it from the market. But hopefully, we will see further evidence of benefit in the clinical trial and as greater numbers of people receive Aduhelm. As an agency, we will also continue to work to foster drug development for this catastrophic disease.”

STIFEL

Stifel analyst Paul Matteis reiterates his Buy rating on Biogen shares following the FDA granting accelerated approval of aducanumab, now to be called “Aduhelm,” for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Approval based on amyloid plaque as a “surrogate” is “definitely unexpected” and appears to be a way for FDA to work around the contentious advisory committee meeting, argues Matteis, who adds that the approval “is a big win.” How investors will risk-adjust revenues that are modeled after completion of a Phase 4 trial and how insurers will treat access for a drug approved based on a biomarker are “highly interesting” questions that will now “be debated at a materially higher stock valuation,” added Matteis. Biogen shares remain halted for trading at midday following news of the FDA approval.

JEFFRIES

Jefferies analyst Andrew Tsai said news of Biogen (BIIB) being granted FDA approval for aducanumab is likely to spark investor enthusiasm across all Alzheimer’s names and he believes the longer-term setup for Athira Pharma (ATHA) looks more attractive now. Given what he views as “the FDA tailwind,” he would buy on strength as he believes the FDA’s aducanumab decision “clearly has a positive readthrough” to Athira, whose Phase I data suggests ATHA-1017 could produce “a profound cognitive benefit” in Phase 2/3 studies expected to read out in 2022, Tsai tells investors.

In that context, he thinks a 25%-50% short-term move for Athira shares “seems reasonable” relative to the company’s current market cap.

Shares of Biogen (BIIB) remain halted while Eli Lilly (LLY), who has an Alzheimer’s disease drug in its pipeline, is up 4% to $210.78 following the news.

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FDA Approves J&J’s one shot Covid-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine granted emergency approval from FDA 

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease. The FDA has determined that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine has met the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA. The totality of the available data “provides clear evidence that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.

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The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is manufactured using a specific type of virus called adenovirus type 26. The vaccine uses Ad26 to deliver a piece of the DNA, or genetic material, that is used to make the distinctive “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the FDA said. While adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are relatively common, Ad26, which can cause cold symptoms and pink eye, has been modified for the vaccine so that it cannot replicate in the human body to cause illness, it added. After a person receives this vaccine, the body can temporarily make the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

The EUA allows Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson also announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The ACIP recommendation will be forwarded to the Director of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review and adoption.

Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping its COVID-19 vaccine and expects to deliver enough single-shot vaccines by the end of March to enable the full vaccination of more than 20M people in the U.S.

The company plans to deliver 100M single-shot vaccines to the U.S. during the first half of 2021. The U.S. government will manage allocation and distribution of the vaccine in the U.S.

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Johnson & Johnson files for FDA approval of it’s Covid-19 Vaccine

 J&J submits FDA application for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced that Janssen Biotech, Inc., has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting Emergency Use Authorization for its investigational single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

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JNJ files for approval of Covid-19 vaccine

The company’s EUA submission is based on topline efficacy and safety data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE clinical trial, demonstrating that the investigational single-dose vaccine met all primary and key secondary endpoints.

The Company expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization. “Today’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization of our investigational single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is a pivotal step toward reducing the burden of disease for people globally and putting an end to the pandemic,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson.

“Upon authorization of our investigational COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, we are ready to begin shipping. With our submission to the FDA and our ongoing reviews with other health authorities around the world, we are working with great urgency to make our investigational vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible.”

Johnson & Johnson intends to distribute vaccine to the U.S. government immediately following authorization, and expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2021.

JNJ last traded at $161.99.

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Aytu BioScience and Neos Therapeutics Merge

Aytu, Neos Therapeutics enter all-stock merger agreement

Aytu BioScience (AYTU) and Neos Therapeutics (NEOS) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Neos will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Aytu in an all-stock transaction.

Upon the effectiveness of the merger, Neos stockholders will be entitled to receive 0.1088 shares of common stock of Aytu for each share of Neos common stock held, after taking into account the one-for-ten reverse split of Aytu’s common stock that was effected on December 8.

The transaction will result in Neos stockholders owning approximately 30% of the fully diluted common shares of Aytu.

The all-stock transaction is valued, on a fully diluted basis, at approximately $44.9M based on the 10-day volume weighted average price of Aytu stock for the period ended December 9.

The combined entity will have an increased footprint in the prescription pediatric market, an established multi-brand ADHD portfolio addressing the $8.5B ADHD market and combined revenue scale.

For the 12-month period ending September 30, Neos generated $57M in revenues. On a combined pro-forma basis for this same period, Aytu and Neos’ aggregate net revenue is over $100M.

In addition, this merger facilitates operational and commercial synergies that can be harnessed to accelerate the path to profitability for the combined entity, with estimated annualized cost synergies of approximately $15M beginning FY22.

The combined company will be led by Josh Disbrow, CEO of Aytu and will be headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

The board of the combined company will consist of six members designated by Aytu and two members designated by Neos, including Neos CEO and director Jerry McLaughlin and Neos director Beth Hecht.

The merger is currently expected to close by Q2 of 2021, subject to certain approvals by both Aytu and Neos stockholders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

As part of the transaction, Aytu has agreed to provide Neos with access to up to $5M cash for working capital needs for the period prior to the closing of the merger.

In addition, upon closing of the merger, $15M in principal of Neos’s existing senior secured debt facility with affiliates of Deerfield Management will be repaid, and Deerfield has agreed to allow the remaining debt under the facility to remain outstanding with the combined company following the merger.

Indebtedness under Neos’s existing ABL agreement with Encina Business Credit will also remain outstanding.

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Sage Therapeutics shares jump on it depression drug

Sage Therapeutics, Biogen announce collaboration on SAGE-217, SAGE-324

Biogen (BIIB) and Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) announced that they have executed a global collaboration and license agreement to jointly develop and commercialize zuranolone for major depressive disorder, postpartum depression and other psychiatric disorders and SAGE-324 for essential tremor and other neurological disorders.

Sage receives a large investment from Biogen

Zuranolone, a potential first-in-class, two-week, once-daily oral therapy in development for the treatment of MDD and PPD, is currently in Phase 3 development as part of the LANDSCAPE and NEST clinical programs.

Zuranolone has breakthrough therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for MDD and, if successfully developed and approved, has the potential to be a novel treatment paradigm in depression.

Biogen gambles on Sage’s depression drug

The vision for zuranolone in MDD and PPD is based on its potential, being evaluated in the LANDSCAPE and NEST development programs, to work rapidly and to continue providing sustained benefit beyond the period of dosing.

Together, these two features, if supported by positive clinical efficacy and safety data, could provide an alternative option to how depression is treated today based on a target profile of an “as-needed” short course of treatment for a depressive episode, with rapid and sustained efficacy and favorable tolerability.

The development of an “as-needed” treatment for depression may help ease the difficulties associated with chronic use of antidepressants and may enhance quality of life and patient adherence.

To date, two positive pivotal studies have been completed with zuranolone 30 mg, one in MDD (MDD-201) and one in PPD.

Additionally, while the Phase 3 MOUNTAIN Study of zuranolone in MDD did not meet its primary endpoint, the encouraging data from the recently announced MOUNTAIN six-month follow-up period and the topline interim SHORELINE Study analysis, suggest the potential for zuranolone, if successfully developed and approved, to be uniquely positioned as a disruptive, distinct and novel treatment approach for patients.

Biogen and Sage believe that zuranolone is clinically active in MDD based on the data compiled to date and look forward to planned data readouts in 2021.

Sage is pursuing three development pathways for zuranolone in the U.S.: PPD; acute rapid response therapy in MDD when co-initiated with new standard antidepressant therapy; and “as-needed,” or episodic, treatment of MDD.

As a result, Sage is advancing four additional pivotal studies evaluating a 50 mg dose of zuranolone: a Phase 3 study in PPD, a Phase 3 study of use as an acute RRT in patients with MDD when co-initiated with new standard antidepressant therapy , a Phase 3 study in the acute treatment of MDD and an open label Phase 3 study evaluating the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy of “as-needed” repeat treatment. Data from these studies are expected in 2021.

Upon closing of the transaction, Biogen and Sage will collaborate to further define the development and commercialization strategy for zuranolone.

Beyond PPD and MDD, zuranolone may also have potential in other psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. SAGE-324 is a next-generation positive allosteric modulator of GABAA receptors in Phase 2 development for essential tremor with potential in other neurological conditions such as epilepsy and PD.

Essential tremor is one of the most common movement disorders estimated to affect over six million patients in the U.S., and current standard of care may be inadequate for many.

Following encouraging results from a Phase 1 open-label study in essential tremor, Sage advanced SAGE-324 to the Phase 2a KINETIC Study, which Sage is currently conducting.

The KINETIC Study is a 28-day placebo-controlled study in patients with essential tremor expected to read out in 2021.

Upon closing of the transaction, Biogen and Sage will collaborate to further define the development and commercialization strategy for SAGE-324 in essential tremor and, as appropriate, for potential expansion into other neurological disorders.

The strategic collaboration is global in scope and under the terms of the agreement, Sage will receive $1.525 billion in cash to be comprised of an upfront payment of $875 million and a $650 million equity investment in Sage from the purchase of approximately 6.2 million newly issued shares of Sage common stock at a price of $104.14 per share, representing a premium of 40 percent over the 30-day volume-weighted average share price of $74.39 per share as of November 25, 2020.

Should the zuranolone and SAGE-324 programs achieve certain development and commercial milestones, Sage will be eligible to receive up to approximately $1.6 billion in potential milestone payments. Biogen and Sage will share responsibility and costs for development as well as profits and losses for commercialization in the U.S.. Outside the U.S., Biogen will be responsible for development and commercialization, excluding Japan, Taiwan and South Korea with respect to zuranolone, and will pay Sage tiered royalties in the high teens to low twenties. Closing of the transaction is contingent on completion of review under antitrust laws, including the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in the U.S., and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close by the end of January 2021.

BIIB last traded at $241.75. SAGE last traded at $84.00.

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