Analyst: Rigel Arthritis Drug Poised To Compete

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. jumped Tuesday after a Rodman & Renshaw analyst gave the stock a positive rating, citing the potential for a developing rheumatoid arthritis drug to compete in the market.

The stock rose 67 cents, or 7 percent, to $10.20 in afternoon trading. Shares of the South San Francisco, Calif.-based company have traded between $4.19 and $27.18 over the past 52 weeks.

Rodman & Renshaw analyst Simos Simeonidis gave the stock an "Outperform" rating and expects shares to reach $33 over the next 12 months as the drug candidate R788 advances through development. It is currently in midstage clinical trials, with study data expected in July.

The drug candidate has the potential to "become a significant player" in the rheumatoid arthritis market, he said, in a note to investors, citing its effectiveness so far in trials and oral administration. He expects upcoming data in July to be positive, reinforcing the view that R788 is approvable and could take significant market share away from injectable drugs.

R788 would enter a market against several entrenched treatments for the condition, including Biogen Idec Inc. and Genentech's Rituxan and Amgen's Enbrel, both of which are injections.

A partnership for R788 is likely the next major catalyst for Rigel, Simeonidis said. Potential partners would likely prefer to wait until after the an FDA meeting before making a decision, he added, and expects a deal to occur in the fourth quarter or early in 2010.

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