With the SPDR S&P Biotech Index up 29% over the trailing-12-month period, it’s evident that investment dollars are willingly flowing into the biotech sector. Keeping that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the rulings, studies, and companies that made waves in the sector last week.
As promised, while last week was relatively tame when it came to biotech news, we were somewhat overwhelmed this week with earnings news. But earnings stories aside, we had plenty in the way of clinical studies, an approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and a federal appellate court ruling to keep us entertained.
On the bright side, three biotech companies had a very good week.
Shareholders “nudged” Array Biopharma Inc (NASDAQ:ARRY) higher by nearly 18% on the week after it announced positive mid-stage data on ARRY-502, a treatment for mild to moderate persistent allergic asthma. In its mid-stage trial, ARRY-502 met its primary endpoint of improving lung function as measured by forced expiratory volume in one second, or FEV1. In the overall trial, FEV1 increased by 3.9% compared to the placebo, while a specified subset of patients in the Th2 Biomarker group saw their FEV1 jump by 6.8% relative to the placebo. ARRY-502 also met a number of secondary endpoints. Since the asthma market is a crowded field, Array Biopharma Inc (NASDAQ:ARRY) also put the feelers out there that it’s looking for a licensing partner to help take this experimental drug into the next stage.
Perhaps no shareholders jumped for more joy over the past week than those of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX), whose shares shot up 88% this week on word of a positive early-stage clinical trial for BCX4161. In a different context, shares have now jumped 155% in just the past two weeks. The oral experimental drug, BCX4161, which is designed to treat a rare condition known as hereditary angioedema (HAE), was considered safe and well tolerated among patients, and the company anticipates moving on to mid-stage testing soon. However, as the Fools Brian Orelli was quick to point out, this data came from a subset of healthy volunteers, and there’s little guarantee it will translate into success in future trials on patients that do suffer from HAE.
Believe it or not, Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX) continued its string of good news following word from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday that Fetzima, a drug co-developed with Pierre Fabre Laboratories, had been approved to treat major depressive disorder. This is a big step for Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX), which lost MDD drug Lexapro to patent expiration last year and now could be set to capitalize on a disease that can affect as many as 15 million people in the U.S. — all with Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY)‘s Cymbalta, a $5 billion-a-year drug, set to lose patent protection itself in the fourth quarter.
But they can’t all be winners, and two biotech companies found that out the hard way.