Biotech Stock Roundup: Biogen, Amgen Top Estimates; Zika Virus Grabs Attention

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Many major biotech companies reported fourth quarter and full year 2015 results last week. Biogen's BIIB share price was up with the company topping estimates and seeing a sequential improvement in sales of its oral multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment, Tecfidera.

Meanwhile, the spread of the Zika virus has resulted in quite a few companies announcing their plans to explore potential treatments and vaccines.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

1. First a look at earnings results. While companies like Vertex (Read more: Vertex Posts Narrower 4Q Loss, Maintains Outlook ), Biogen (Read more: Biogen Tops on Q4 Earnings by a Wide Margin, Provides View ), and Amgen (Read more: Amgen Tops on Q4 Earnings & Revenues, Ups 2016 Outlook ) performed well, Celgene's fourth quarter earnings fell short of expectations (Read more: Celgene Misses on Q4 Earnings, Reiterates 2016 Guidance ). Gilead's (GILD) earnings as well as revenues surpassed expectations. However, companies like Gilead and AbbVie ABBV will face more competition and pricing pressure in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) market with the launch of Merck's Zepatier which has been priced at a significant discount.

2. Quite a few companies are looking into developing treatment options for the Zika virus, which has instilled fear across the world. The mosquito-borne virus was declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization in Jan 2016. Pregnant women have been advised to avoid travel to 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Mexico and Haiti. With no current vaccine or course of treatment being available for the Zika virus, many companies are rushing to come up with solutions.

In a recent announcement, Inovio said that its technology can be readily used to target threatening infectious threats like MERS and Zika virus as well as other emergent infectious diseases. Intrexon XON is also working on controlling the spread of the virus. NewLink NLNK has also initiated a project to develop new treatment options for the Zika virus.

3. Incyte INCY suffered a setback last week with a mid-stage study (colorectal cancer) evaluating Jakafi (ruxolitinib) plus Stivarga (regorafenib) being stopped early due to lack of sufficient efficacy in an interim analysis. With Jakafi currently being evaluated for other types of cancer, investors remain jittery about Jakafi's chances of success in these studies (Read more: Incyte Halts Phase II Jakafi-Stivarga Combination Study ).

4. Axovant's AXON shares crashed 17.9% on fears that the company's experimental Alzheimer's disease treatment will share the same fate as Pfizer's PF-05212377. Pfizer recently provided information that it has terminated a mid-stage study comparing PF-05212377 to placebo in Alzheimer's disease patients on donepezil (trade name: Aricept). The study was shut down in late Oct 2015 as pre-specified, interim analysis futility criteria were met.

Pfizer's update led to a sell-off in Axovant's share price as Axovant's lead pipeline candidate, RVT-101, has the same mechanism of action (5HT6 receptor antagonist) as Pfizer's PF-05212377. RVT-101 is currently in the late-stage MINDSET study in which it is being evaluated for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease in patients on a stable background of donepezil therapy.


Most major biotech stocks declined last week with Biogen being the only one to record an increase (2.38%) thanks to its fourth quarter results and the sequential improvement in Tecfidera sales. Regeneron REGN lost 11.58% during this period. Meanwhile, Vertex lost 32.61% over the last six months.

Company Last Week Last 6 Months
AMGN -2.39% -14.17%
BIIB 2.38% -16.54%
GILD -10.30% -29.24%
CELG -8.62% -26.21%
REGN -11.58% -25.97%
ALXN -10.01% -30.43%
VRTX -1.32% -32.61%

The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index declined 4.57% over the last five trading days (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Sarepta Plunges on Briefing Documents, Acorda to Buy Biotie ).

What's Next in the Biotech World?

Several companies are yet to come out with their earnings results. Meanwhile, Vertex will be hearing from the FDA (FDA action date: Feb 7) regarding the approval status of Kalydeco for use in people (2 years and above) with one of 23 residual function mutations that result in CF - approval for this indication would accelerate access to more than 1,500 patients in the U.S.

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REGENERON PHARM (REGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

INCYTE CORP (INCY): Free Stock Analysis Report

BIOGEN INC (BIIB): Free Stock Analysis Report

ABBVIE INC (ABBV): Free Stock Analysis Report

INTREXON CORP (XON): Free Stock Analysis Report

AXOVANT SCIENC (AXON): Free Stock Analysis Report

NEWLINK GENETIC (NLNK): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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.

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