New York: For a disease without a cure, and a field of drug development prone to disappointments, Axovant Sciences may be the next great hope.
By the month’s end, pivotal results from testing Axovant’s experimental intepirdine as a treatment for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease could point the way towards a new option for patients and set the company up to generate more than $2 billion in sales by 2023, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The shares rose 1.7% to $25.42 at 9.37am in New York.
Positive phase 3 data might spur shares to quadruple from recent levels, said Jefferies analyst Michael Yee, who views Axovant as an “attractive tuck-in" for a larger neurological-focused company. Yee sees a “big asymmetric upside potential on the Alzheimer’s data" and forecasts peak sales of $2 billion to $4 billion per year, if the therapy wins regulatory approval.
The stock on Friday traded as high as $27.98, the highest intraday since June 2015, the month Axovant went public. Shares had rallied more than 40% after Axovant on 15 September listed a job on Glassdoor for a project manager to work with the team submitting its new drug application.
Shares of Axovant had a similar run in April when the company put former Medivation CEO David Hung at the helm. Hung, who sold Medivation Inc. to Pfizer Inc. for $14 billion last year, called Axovant an under-appreciated “jewel". The company is looking to break into the largest market opportunity in the biotech sector as Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5.3 million people in the US.
While investors have piled into the stock ahead of the expected September readout, JMP analyst Jason Butler said failure wouldn’t be a complete shock for all. “If the data are positive, this is definitely a $2 billion drug," he said. “But if you’re investing ahead of this data you know it is a high-risk, high-reward opportunity."
Key companies with Alzheimer’s treatments are Allergan, Eisai and Otsuka, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Biogen, Merck & Co. and Roche are also developing new drugs for the disease. Bloomberg