Cholesterol Stocks Clobbered: Good Clinical Results But High Expectations

Upbeat Drug Study Data from an Amgen Cholesterol Trial but Stocks are Clobbered Because of Higher Expectations

LDL cholesterol is a Toxic Risk Factor

Results from a long-term study on the efficacy of a new generation of LDL cholesterol reducing drugs fell short of expectations and clobbered four stocks: Amgen (AMGN) , Esperion (ESPR), The Medicines Company (MDCO) and Regeneron (REGN). Amgen (AMGN) released data from its FOURIER study on Repatha(R) showed a 15% relative risk reduction (RRR) of having a heart attack, stroke or other heart related health problems compared to a placebo. So the data looked good but Wall Street wanted more. The Amgen PCSK9 inhibitor drug (evolocumab) Repatha showed that lowering the LDL cholesterol conferred a benefit regardless of initial cholesterol level so is likely to be prescribed to higher risk patients.The study involved 27,564 patients over 2.2 years was compared to statin drugs. For lower risk patients there may not be a sufficient reduction in mortality to justify adoption by payers considering the Repatha drug is priced at $14,500/year. Repatha(R) revenue for 2016 was $141M and Regeneron (REGN) $116M with a similar drug without any insurance reimbursement. Sales estimates for the Amgen cholesterol drug out to Year 5 are in the $2B range.

So risk reduction for LDL lowering drugs is significant, better than statins, but pricing is an issue. Still many analysts believe the drug is a breakthrough and will be used in high risk patients.

Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (ESPR) was down 20% and The Medicines Company (MDCO) down 8% as both have similar drugs in development.

Amgen (AMGN) was down 6.38% closing at $168.61 about where it opened. Regeneron (REGN) was down 3.13% to $380.29 after being as low as $370.68. Amgen (AMGN) remains a hold  in the Rayno Biopharmaceutical Portfolio.

The biotech sector took another hit on this news already buffeted by the Trump budget which cuts NIH funding and concerns about the makeover to the ACA, lower prices and fewer patients.

IBB $295.28 down 1.11%, off Wednesday highs of $303.

XBI $71 down 0.59%

XLV $75.16 down 0.55%, weakest sector lately.


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