Put the blame on mame, boys, put the blame on mame ~ Rita Haywarth
Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR) can definitely put the blame on a lot of negative publicity - much of it false, malicious, or plain silly - for having lost almost 35% of its market capitalization in 2012, and for losing another nearly 4.5% of its value year-to-date.
This is funny because this is a company that has been beating market expectations for revenue and earnings in each quarter for almost two years now. It has a great product that it acquired for a song and is selling for a trove; it just made some very meaningful backward integration; and to top it all like the crumble toppings on my grandma's blueberry muffins, it pays a tidy dividend too. And yet, nothing seems to go well for this company, while the fact that the company has been exceeding expectations makes it clear that it has strong fundamentals going forward. It is, however, being beaten down by negative news, short sellers and bears alike.
Imagine an Investment Like This
Acthar was a drug that was not wanted by any major Pharma company. Nobody wanted it because they thought it was too difficult to manufacture and didn't have enough sales potential. Back in 2001, when Questcor was looming over bankruptcy fears, it bought Acthar from Aventis, now Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY)-Aventis , for just $100,000, and a 1% commission on over $10 million of sales per year.
As the range of conditions the drug could treat increased over time, Acthar has produced sales of $865 million, including $424.30 million in the previous year. This product is also growing by more than 100% year-over-year and is well on its way to achieve annual sales of $1.0 billion. Given how the drug has produced large sales, and strong gains, it's only logical that the stock would pull back on any negative news about the drug. Interesting to know that the drug, which about a decade ago sold for $40 a vial, now sells for $28,000 thanks to aggressive marketing from Questcor and increased scope of treatment coverage.
Negative Coverage the Stock Has Endured
Insurer Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) dropped practically all coverage of Achtar for treating multiple sclerosis and nephrotic symdrome citing no proof of effectiveness. It, however, continues to offer reimbursement for treating infantile spasms, which only accounts for a small percentage of Achtar sales. It contended that Acthar was medically essential only to treat infantile spasms and that it was in no way superior to existing therapies in the 18 other diseases that it was approved for. Acthar has been approved to treat multiple sclerosis, rheumatic disorders, allergies, nephrotic syndrome, and eye and respiratory diseases.
Questcor was also in the news for being investigated by a U.S. agency over its promotional practices for marketing Acthar, sending its shares on a decline, losing almost a third of its value just days after Aetna announced cutback of reimbursements for Acthar.
Then appeared news that Questcor’s top-selling drug to treat infantile spasms, Acthar would be facing competition. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration update specified that, Cerium Pharmaceuticals had sought orphan drug status for a synthetic version of Acthar. The chances that the FDA would overrule its orphan drug exclusivity were slim, and it is hoped that the drug will enjoy that status till 2017.