Hearty Profits: Companies Racing to Develop the Next Big Cholesterol Drug

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(List compiled by Alexander Crawford. Data sourced from Finviz.)

Scientists recently discovered a protein PCSK9 and its gene that keeps the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream – now, biotech and pharma companies are racing to develop the best medicine that will use this target to lower cholesterol. Some believe it will be the best class of heart health drugs since statins were introduced in the 1980s.

According to a report from Reuters, biotech company Regeneron (REGN) and its pharma partner Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) are well on their way. Their injectable medicine REGN727 cut LDL cholesterol levels by over 60% in an early-stage trial. Results from mid-stage studies should be out later this year, which can begin to rule out potential side effects such as raised blood pressure seen from other heart drugs.

Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Merck & Co. (MRK), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY), and a partnership between Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY), and Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) are all in hot pursuit of the best anti-PCSK9 drug, according to Reuters.

Amgen is soon advancing its PCSK9 inhibitor into Phase II studies.

"There's a real opportunity to change the paradigm of treating cardiovascular disease with this therapy," Scott Wasserman, Amgen's global project leader for cardiovascular medicines, told Reuters.

This class of drugs is expected to be used alongside statins (such as Pfizer’s Lipitor) for patients who cannot achieve cholesterol-lowering goals on statins alone. It may also be used for patients that cannot tolerate statins.

Andrew Plump, head of cardiovascular discovery for Merck, cautioned that long-term trials are needed to confirm the value of PCSK9 blockers, but he otherwise predicts that PCSK9 inhibitors used with statins could reduce heart attack and stroke risk 25 to 30 percent beyond the 25 to 30 percent reduced risk seen with statins alone.

Merck has not disclosed details of its PCSK9 program, but Plump told Reuters the company is interested in developing injectable and pill formulations.

Do you think PCSK9 will be the next big target for the heart drug market? If so, which companies are most likely to profit?

Here we provide interesting data on the stocks of the companies mentioned in this article:

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1. Access a thorough description of all companies mentioned
2. Compare analyst ratings for all stocks mentioned below
3. Visualize annual returns for all stocks mentioned

1. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (REGN): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $5.37B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 12.01% (equivalent to 8.46 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.75% over the last week.

2. Sanofi-Aventis (SNY): Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $98.40B. The stock has gained 33.54% over the last year.

3. Amgen Inc. (AMGN): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $50.63B. The stock has gained 6.12% over the last year.

4. Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK): Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $100.0B. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up--dividend yield at 4.68%, current ratio at 2.05, and quick ratio at 1.66. The stock has lost 2.38% over the last year.

5. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALNY): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $306.65M. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.29% (equivalent to 18.27 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 11.13% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 23.35%.

6. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY): Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $49.96B. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up--dividend yield at 4.51%, current ratio at 1.99, and quick ratio at 1.79. The stock has gained 18.87% over the last year.

7. Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ISIS): Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $736.49M. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.54% (equivalent to 16.15 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.72% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 14.47%.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Investing Ideas , Stocks


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