Biotech Outperforms Large Cap Pharma
Biotechnology stocks were up today sparked by Intermune (ITMN $32.74)news that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending their Esbriet (pirfenidone) drug for marketing for treatment of mild to moderate idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive and fatal lung disease. The FDA rejected the Company’s application in May. Esbriet is an orphan drug that may affect as many as 100,000 Europeans. Pirfenidone is an orally active small molecule drug that inhibits the synthesis of TGF-beta, a chemical mediator that controls many cell functions and plays a key role in fibrosis. In October Intermune sold the rights to danoprevir, an HCV drug under development,to Roche for $175M. The Company has other hepatology drugs under development such as a next generation protease inhibitor. Nine months sales (9/30/10) of their Actimmune product were $15.174M.
The large cap Pharma sector took a hit today primarily with AstraZeneca (AZN $45.66) down 7% because the FDA required additional data on their blood thinning drug. Other large cap drug stocks were weak in sympathy: Abbott(ABT), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Merck(MRK) and Pfizer (PFE) were all down over 1% in midday trading.
Small and mid-cap biotech stocks moved higher on the Intermune news such as Biomarin (BMRN $27.29), another orphan drug player up 2.6%.
Our top Life Science ETF pick First Trust (FBT $38.85) was up 6.6% although ITMN was not listed among their top ten holdings but many tools stocks are included. Other ETF’s followed are IBB up 1% and XBI up 0.4%. Larger Cap movers today in the Rayno Biopharma Model Portfolio are : Alexion(ALXN) up 2.4%, Amgen (AMGN) up 1.5%, Cephalon(CEPH) up 2.85% and Illumina (ILMN) up 1.3%. Gilead (GILD $37.25), a potential value play remains a laggard down 1.57%.