Here’s What Happened Last Week In Biotech

It was a busy week last week in the biotechnology space, with a whole host of companies putting out updates on their respective operations (primarily rooted in development pipelines) and these updates subsequently injecting a considerable amount of volatility into the markets on their release.

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Here’s a look at some of the biggest movers, what was behind the action and what to look out for next from the companies in question

Menlo Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:MNLO)

First up, Menlo. This is one we actually covered here at Market Exclusive when the news hit press but it’s one that’s worth touching on briefly here in this recap, given the action surrounding the event. Specifically, the company announced that a phase II trial that was set up to investigate (and, hopefully, prove) the safety and efficacy of a drug called serlopitant. The target indication was pruritus in adults and adolescents with atopic dermatitis (AD) and, as per the release, the trial did not meet its primary or key secondary efficacy endpoints.

That’s bad news, sure, and markets have reacted in line with this.

At the close of play subsequent to the announcement hitting press, Menlo traded for a 77% discount to its preannouncement market capitalization. We suggested that this might be an oversell, however, given the company’s activity (with the same drug) in different indications – activity that has been very successful to date – and the potential for this activity to get things back on track near term.

Markets look to have agreed with our analysis on this one (at least in principal), with the company recovering to trade around $9 a share before the week closed out.

We expect a continuation of the upwards trend for Menlo as this week matures, with the oversell likely diminishing moving forward as the company heads towards a couple of major data readouts for serlopitant throughout mid 2018.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPPI)

Moving on, then, Spectrum.

Spectrum also moved last week on the release of some phase II data, with this data rooted in a drug called poziotinib, which the company is trying to get approved in a target indication of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Unlike Menlo, Spectrum was able to impress markets with its numbers and picked up a considerable amount of strength heading into the second half of last week as a result.

Specifically, the company reported that, in the first 11 patients dosed and reviewed as part of the phase II trial in question, the confirmed objective response rate was 64%. That’s a very strong response rate in a cancer like NSCLC and it’s one that could be a major boon to the target patient population if it matures through to an approval on the back of the development program in question.

Just as was the case with Menlo (although, of course, in the opposite direction), markets responded in line with the implications of the development, and Spectrum ran up 42% to $20.76 following the release of the data.

The company closed out the end of the week a little down on these highs, trading for $19.22 at the bell on Friday, but looks set to return to the upside momentum this week as markets look forward to the complete dataset from the above-mentioned study.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:RIGL)

Finally, Rigel.

This one’s a bit of a strange situation. The company ran up last week on an update on its IR website that seemed to imply that its lead development asset, a drug called fostamatinib, had been approved by the FDA in a target indication of adult patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).

This is great news, of course, and markets responded with a boost in market capitalization for Rigel during the hours immediately subsequent to the update.

So, what’s strange about this?

Well, shortly after the announcement hit press, the company reported that the update was an error and that the drug hadn’t in fact been approved and that the original PDUFA data remained in place.

The company dipped on the error and markets are now looking to the original date (which is slated for today, April 17) for insight into whether or not the error came in advance of a positive outcome, or not.

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