Healthcare Business

As Antibiotics Stop Working, Five Biotechs Seek Cures

Insmed Inc. (NASDAQ: INSM) was a stock we recently profiled as a name that could double or more. On Wednesday, the company received breakthrough therapy designation for Arikace from the FDA. The designation was granted to Arikace for curing patients suffering from treatment resistant nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung infections. The stock was up a huge 41% and could be poised to go much higher.

Insmed now intends to discuss with the U.S. regulatory authority the future pathway of Arikace. The FDA’s decision was based on the findings from the Phase 2 study on Arikace in NTM patients. Merrill Lynch does not cover Insmed. However Leerink has a $33 price target and Piper Jaffray has an astonishing $51 price target. The consensus price target is posted at $33.40. Shares close Thursday at $17.78, and were trading up more than 5% in the premarket Friday.

Medicines Co. (NASDAQ: MDCO) recently announced the publication of the results from the SOLO I Phase 3 clinical trial of Orbactivtm (Oritavancin), an investigational intravenous antibiotic treatment for ABSSSI. An estimated 5.2 million patients in the United States and Western Europe are admitted to hospitals with ABSSSI annually.

Patients often receive intravenous therapies that require hospital admission and multiple-day dosing. The company is a leading biotechnology provider of solutions in three areas: serious infectious disease care, acute cardiovascular care and surgery and perioperative care. The stock is rated Buy at Merrill Lynch with a $36 price target, and the consensus target is $33.10. Shares ended trading Thursday at $28.03.

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Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: TTPH) recently announced that it has completed patient enrollment in the lead-in portion of its IGNITE 2 clinical trial. This two-part Phase 3 clinical trial is studying the safety and efficacy of intravenous (IV) and oral formulations of eravacycline for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections. The lead-in portion of this trial was designed to inform the selection of an oral dose to take forward into the pivotal portion of the Phase 3 trial.

Tetraphase anticipates announcing top-line data in the third quarter of this year. Merrill Lynch does not cover the stock. The consensus price target is $19.13. Tetraphase closed Thursday at $12.99.

The companies taking the lead in this field can all be considered as takeover candidates. With major pharmaceutical not wanting to spend the research and development funds on new antibiotics, these specialty companies are picking up the slack in a huge field.

Most importantly, drug resistant infections are growing, and growing fast. The faster these companies can achieve efficacy and approval, the faster the potential acquisition deals may come.

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