Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) stock soared almost 3% Wednesday to close in on a new 52-week high after the pharmaceutical giant announced the FDA accepted its new drug application for a pill form of its antifungal drug Noxafil.
Merck currently sells the drug in liquid form, but the pill formulation gives a new option for patients getting treatment in a hospital setting. The therapy is for those who have severely compromised immune systems, which puts them at great risk of infection from Aspergillus and Candida, two invasive fungal infections. In addition to FDA approval, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is seeking approval from European regulators and hopes to eventually get the pill formulation approved worldwide.
Dow pharmaceuticals stocks actually had a big day on Wednesday as Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) also powered higher on news the FDA designated its experimental breast cancer therapy palbociclib a breakthrough drug, which will accelerate the development and review process.
A lot of familiar names were also active on Wednesday, stocks that for the most part have been beaten down over the past few weeks or months, but are bouncing around to extremes. Emblematic of that manic behavior is VirnetX Holding Corporation (NYSEAMEX:VHC), which jumped 10% after announcing on Tuesday that Europe’s patent office intends to grant it a patent for third-party VPN certification.
VirnetX has been all over the place recently after a mixed court decision involving an infringement case withCisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO). While the patents of VirnetX were found to be valid, it was decided Cisco didn’t violate them. Because Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had just lost a case to VirnetX over the same issues, investors worried they’d now come back and appeal.
Having lost a quarter of its value following the Cisco decision, its stock has gained more than 20% over the past week from bolt-on “victories” like those with the European Patent Office and having added additional specifications to existing patents. It’s hoped these kinds of small wins will allow it to continue to triumph in the courtroom while protecting its backside from any new challenges.
Star Scientific, Inc. (NASDAQ:STSI) is another one that’s bouncing around, though more often than not it seems to fall harder than rise meteorically. Wednesday, though, was one of the good days, jumping 14% on no discernable news. It’s still under investigation for stock transactions it made, but after a forceful attack against the trial attorneys piling into the stock and Wednesday’s comeback, Star’s stock is now 16% higher than where it was a week ago.