BOSTON, Mass. (
) -- Two opposing views of
emerged Tuesday as the company nears the release of results from the next late-stage clinical trial of its obesity drug lorcaserin:
SummerStreet Research Partners reiterated its buy rating and $11.50-a-share price target.
"We expect the shares to be up significantly with positive BLOSSOM results," writes analyst Carol Werther in a note to clients Tuesday.
Blossom is the name given to the second phase III study of lorcaserin, results of which are expected before the end of September. Recall that the first lorcaserin study, dubbed Bloom, demonstrated placebo-adjusted weight loss of 3.6%, among other positive effects. Werther predicts Blossom results will mimic those seen in the Bloom study.
Werther adds that, "Shares of both
were up over 60% upon announcing results their results. We are hopeful that Arena shares will act similarly."
Also on Tuesday, Rodman & Renshaw downgraded Arena to market perform from market outperform, with no price target.
"Compelling competitor data may have raised the bar for Arena's upcoming release of Phase 3 BLOSSOM data, anticipated within the next two weeks. In our opinion Arena is fairly valued at this time," writes analyst Elemer Piros.
Piros believes doctors will reach first for Vivus' weight-loss drug Qnexa, with Orexigen's Contrave or Arena's lorcaserin used as second or third options for obese patients.
"We remain positive on lorcaserin's commercial potential if approved, but we believe that adoption as monotherapy may remain limited, and physicians are unlikely to combine lorcaserin with phentermine or other agents until long-term safety of such combo is confirmed in clinical studies," Piros writes.
Arena shares were down 7% to $4.60 in recent trading.
Meantime, there is a Vivus takeout rumor in the market today from the same source floating all of the biotech buyout rumors yesterday.
BioCryst Still Waiting for Flu Drug Deals
(At 8:41 AM EDT)
still has no contract with the U.S. government or any foreign governments to stockpile large quantities of its experimental flu drug peramivir.
In an business update released Tuesday, Biocryst said the U.S government agencies were "considering the future option of providing peramivir through an EUA in the event of a severe influenza outbreak with significant hospitalizations."
An EUA, or Emergency Use Authorization, would allow the government to purchase peramivir -- and allows doctors to use the drug on severely ill flu patients -- even though the drug is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But there's little news here. It's been well known for months that U.S. officials were weighing a peramivir purchase. In fact, a lot of bullish Biocryst investors expected a deal to be completed before the summer ended.
Last week, updated flu treatment guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to mention peramivir as a recommended treatment for hospitalized flu patients.
The same lack of meaningful progress seems to be taking place overseas. Biocryst announced "partnerships" for peramivir purchases outside the U.S.
But these ex-U.S. partnerships covering China, Israel, Brazil and Mexico are just "binding letters of intent," said Biocryst. These partners "will exclusively represent BioCryst and its antiviral peramivir for influenza stockpiling opportunities, as well as for marketing and distribution of peramivir for seasonal influenza upon local regulatory approval, within their territories outside the U.S.," according to Tuesday's press release.
In other words, no stockpiling contracts to date and Biocryst isn't making any money from peramivir or its partners yet.
Back in the U.S., Biocryst says it's finalizing design plans for the phase III peramivir studies, but most important, the company is still working on raising the money to fund the studies.
Data from peramivir phase III study in Japan presented this weekend at a medical conference showing the drug can fight seasonal flu just as well as
Tamiflu. Investors have bid up Biocryst shares in the belief that governments will buy hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, of peramivir as a safeguard measure in case the swine flu escalates into a plague-like public health catastrophe.
Biocryst shares were up 13% to $12.14 in recent trading.
-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback;
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