Market charts plus calculator

Biotech Nearly Triples On Seizure Drug, Hitting Rival GW Pharma

Market charts plus calculator

Shutterstock photo

Zogenix ( ZGNX ) shares nearly tripled, rocketing to their highest point in nearly four years Friday, after the company reported Phase 3 data on a drug that targets forms of epilepsy seen primarily in children and young adults - and widely topping earlier results from rival GW Pharmaceuticals ( GWPH ).

[ibd-display-video id=2324623 width=50 float=left autostart=true]At one point on the stock market today , Zogenix shares catapulted higher by 191.5% to 37.55. By the closing bell, shares were up 172.2% to $35.05. Meanwhile, GW Pharma toppled 9.6% to close at 101.49.

Janney analyst Ken Trbovich called the results from Zogenix "extremely positive" and reiterated his sell rating on GW Pharma, which could now face difficulty in getting a share of the epilepsy market despite being ahead of Zogenix in the development process.

"We believe investors previously ignored the threat from Zogenix because its program was only supported by a small (12 patients), open-label study conducted in Europe," he wrote in a note to clients.

But on Friday, Zogenix said the low dose of its drug, dubbed fenfluramine, reduced monthly seizures by a median 72.4% vs. a 17.4% reduction in patients treated with a nondrug placebo. Zogenix's drug aims to treat a rare condition known as Dravet syndrome and is undergoing testing for another form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, both of which begin in childhood.

In its Phase 3 trial presented in March 2016, GW Pharma's drug called Epidiolex achieved a monthly median seizure reduction of 39% compared with a 13% reduction in patients treated with a placebo.

IBD'S TAKE:Biotechs are outmuscling the broader stock market, but is it time to invest in one of their exchange traded funds? Head to IBD's ETFs page for a closer look at how and when might be the best time to jump.

Both trials treated patients over the course of 14 weeks, though Zogenix observed patients for six weeks prior to treatment whereas GW Pharma used a four-week observation period to establish their baselines for seizures.

Trbovich acknowledged that there are no head-to-head studies between the two, and there are significant differences between the patient populations treated in both trials. But he noted that Zogenix's drug could potentially also rival GW Pharma's in treating other seizure disorders.

GW Pharma has completed Phase 3 trials of Epidiolex in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral drug created from plant-derived cannabidiol.

"We expect low-dose fenfluramine represents a significant competitive threat to GW Pharma's Epidiolex across both indications for which GW Pharma is first seeking Food and Drug Administration approval," Trbovich said.

Zogenix plans to submit an application for low-dose fenfluramine with the FDA in the second half of 2018. Trbovich notes that the filing could come sooner depending on feedback from the FDA following this first Phase 3 study.

The firm is also planning to start a Phase 3 study of low-dose fenfluramine to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in the fourth quarter, Trbovich said.


How CVS Head Is Fighting The Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Marijuana Investing Goes Wall Street: More Ties, Less Tie-Dye

Why This Biotech Is Jumping Today On Its Rival's Cannabis-Tied Drug

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

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

In This Story


Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos