Jacob Gottlieb‘s Visium Asset Management has increased its stake in Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT), according to an amended filing with the SEC. Gottlieb’s fund now holds 1.04 million shares of Intercept, compared to the 767,015 they previously held. Visium now holds 5.2% of Intercept’s shares.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals is focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutics to treat chronic liver diseases utilizing its bile acid chemistry. Gottlieb upped the company’s stake in Intercept amid news that the company’s liver-disease drug performed well in a clinical trial leading to a near quadrupling of the company’s stock price.
The company recently announced that their decision to halt an experimental drug trial early as patients showed “significant improvement” compared to a placebo.
According to Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) Chief Executive and co-founder Mark Pruzanski, “We didn’t expect this. The bar for stopping the study for efficacy was so high from a statistical significance standpoint that on an interim analysis like this, it seemed out of sight. We couldn’t be happier with the result.”
The trial was for a beticholic acid, or OCA, drug. Reportedly, OCA imitates the liver’s naturally occurring protective bile. The drug is designed for patients afflicted with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The disease, which has no symptoms initially, can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Further, there are no cures for the disease currently.
The drug, called obeticholic acid, or OCA, mimics a naturally occurring human bile acid that Intercept believes has liver-protective properties. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases sponsored a clinical trial of the drug in patients with a condition known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which involves fat accumulation in the liver that can cause inflammation and lead to the more serious conditions of cirrhosis and liver failure. The disease progresses over many years and often has no symptoms in the early stages. Further, 2-5% of Americans suffer from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT)’s stock is up an incredible 717% over the past year and more than 350% over the past month. The 45-person company is yet to put a product on the market, even though it was founded in 2002. According to FactSet Research Systems Inc, the company recently experienced the most significant single-day jim among companies of at least $1 billion in market value since 2012.
In addition to Visium Asset Management, Steve Cohen is also bullish on Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT): His SAC Capital Advisors opened a 5.3% position in the company in November. Missing out on the rally, in part, was Samuel Isaly’s Orbimed Advisors. In late October, Orbimed unloaded a part of its shares of the Intercept. Even though, following the sale, Orbimed still owns around 1.7 million shares of the company, its stake is significantly lower than 2.15 million shares held at the end of September according to latest 13F.