Biotech Stocks Update: A Review of the Biotech Stocks for the Week

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AbbVie (ABBV) was in the news last week thanks to its agreements with Infinity Pharmaceuticals (INFI) and Calico. Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX) was also in the headlines – the company’s shares declined despite receiving FDA approval for its oral, ferric iron-based compound. Gilead (GILD) was in the news as well, once again due to its hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, Sovaldi.

AbbVie was very active on the deal making front last week with the company signing agreements with Infinity Pharma and Calico (the Google-backed life sciences company). The Infinity Pharma deal could see AbbVie shelling out up to $805 million in the form of upfront and milestone payments. The agreement is focused on experimental cancer treatment, duvelisib. AbbVie, which will be acquiring Shire, is looking to reduce its dependence on Humira and expand its portfolio.

Keryx saw its shares sliding despite receiving FDA approval for ferric citrate, its oral, ferric iron-based compound. Shares were down reflecting concerns regarding the product labeling which may curtail uptake.

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Prana Biotechnology’s shares were up on news that the company has gained orphan drug status in the U.S. for its experimental Huntington disease treatment, PBT2. This means that the company will enjoy seven years of market exclusivity for PBT2 in the treatment of Huntington disease. The company will get other incentives as well.

Gilead is rumored to be close to sealing a deal under which its high-priced HCV treatment, Sovaldi, will be provided at a huge discount to 80 developing countries including India and Pakistan. According to a Bloomberg report, Sovaldi could be sold for as less as $900 for a 12-week course.

This is in stark contrast to the drug’s $84,000 price tag in the U.S. for the same period of treatment. Gilead’s shares were down on concerns that this steep discount may once again lead to questions being raised about the drug’s high price tag in the U.S.

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Amgen (AMGN), which has made significant progress with its pipeline this year, has filed for EU approval of its PCSK9 inhibitor, evolocumab. Evolocumab is one of the most important candidates in Amgen’s pipeline and represents huge commercial potential, once approved and launched. The company had filed for U.S. approval just a few days back.

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