If you thought the fireworks ended after the Fourth of July celebrations last week, think again. Plenty of pops and bangs were heard in the world of health-care stocks this week. Here are three of the biggest and brightest.
You couldn’t even buy stock in Prosensa Holding BV (NASDAQ:RNA) just a few weeks ago. The biotech launched its IPO on June 28. To say that launch has gone successfully is an understatement. Shares are now more than double the IPO price and climbed 41% this week.
This rapid rise stems from investor excitement that Prosensa Holding BV (NASDAQ:RNA)’s drisapersen received breakthrough therapy designation from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA’s move could allow Prosensa Holding BV (NASDAQ:RNA) and its partner GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK) to beat Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SRPT) in the race to bring a Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug to market first.
So far, Prosensa Holding BV (NASDAQ:RNA)’s gains haven’t been at Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SRPT)’s expense — just as I suspected would be the case. For Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SRPT), winning accelerated approval for eteplirsen is the most important factor, regardless of what happens with drisapersen. For Prosensa Holding BV (NASDAQ:RNA), gaining an early-bird advantage could make some of the other drugs in its pipeline attractive to GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK), which has options on several drugs in the small biotech’s portfolio.
The biotech reported on Thursday that its experimental drug ALN-TTRsc reduced levels of the TTR protein by 80% in a trial involving healthy individuals. High levels of this protein can result in degenerative disease. The effectiveness of ALN-TTRsc in knocking down TTR raises the chances of success for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALNY)’s platform of RNAi therapeutics beyond this one drug.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALNY) will present data from the study at the September meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America. The biotech plans to begin a phase 2 study for ALN-TTRsc targeting treatment of familial amyloidotic cardiomyopathy, a rare degenerative disorder that affects around 40,000 patients worldwide. If all goes well, a phase 3 study will follow in 2014.
Turnaround turns heads
Reduced spending on drug ads contributed to woes for WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) last year. In December, the company cut around 14% of its staff in an effort to control spending in the face of lower revenue. This belt-tightening combined with a rebound in ad spending by customers helped WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.