Healthcare Business

Big News for Ebola Stocks

Chris Lange

Monday may have started out as a fairly quiet news day for most stock sectors on a shortened week, but don’t tell that to the Ebola drug stocks. NewLink Genetics Corp. (NASDAQ: NLNK) announced that it has entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) to research, develop and distribute its investigational Ebola vaccine rVSV-EBOV candidate. This agreement was partially responsible for the uptick that some Ebola stocks saw Monday morning.

Pending the results of ongoing Phase 1 trials at the U.S. National Institute of Health, it was announced that there are plans for an early 2015 large randomized, controlled Phase 3 study for rVSV-EBOV.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, president of Merck Vaccines, said:

Effective Ebola vaccines will be a critical component of comprehensive prevention and control measures for people at risk of Ebola virus infection and to stem future outbreaks globally. Merck is committed to applying our vaccine expertise to address important global health needs and, through our collaboration with NewLink, we hope to advance the public health response to this urgent international health priority.

Under the agreement Merck will have exclusive rights to the vaccine candidate, as well as any follow-on products.

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Shares of NewLink were up over 1% at $35.80 in premarket trading. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $44.00 and a 52-week trading range of $17.32 to $53.48. Shares of Merck were up about 0.5% at $59.97 in premarket trading. It has a consensus analyst price target of $63.56 and a 52-week trading range of $47.61 to $61.33.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) announced Monday morning that it would acquire Prosena Holding N.V. (NASDAQ: RNA). BioMarin will pay $17.75 per share for all Prosena outstanding shares for a total up front consideration of approximately $680 million. There are two approximately $80 million milestones that are payable for the approval of drisapersen in the United States and Europe.

Prosena is said to be considered a direct competitor, Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRPT), and the acquisition by BioMarin has given the Ebola stock a bump — although the competing issue is really in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Shares of Sarepta were up over 13% at $17.82 in premarket trading Monday morning. The consensus analyst price target is $26.92, and the 52-week trading range is $14.31 to $40.00.

Shares of Prosena were up over 63% at $18.70 in premarket trading. It has a consensus analyst price target of $13.94 and a 52-week trading range of $3.95 to $13.75.

Shares of BioMarin were down over 2% at $84.00. Its consensus analyst price target is $89.06, and the 52-week trading range is $55.04 to $88.23.

Other Ebola stocks that were on the move in Monday’s premarket trading were:

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp (NASDAQ: TKMR) shares were up over 4% to $16.70. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $29.29 and a 52-week trading range of $7.17 to $31.48.

Cerus Corp. (NASDAQ: CERS) shares were up about 1% to $4.30. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $6.60 and a 52-week trading range of $3.48 to $8.00.

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