Synergy A Potential Takeover Target After Constipation Drug Data

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The shares of Synergy Pharmaceuticals  (SGYP) are rallying after the company announced that its chronic constipation treatment had met its primary endpoint in a Phase 3 clinical trial. Research firm Canaccord has previously identified Synergy as a potential takeover target and a Bloomberg report said the company had hired advisers to explore a potential sale.

WHAT'S NEW: Synergy reported this morning that the 3 mg and 6 mg versions of its anti-constipation drug, plecanatide, had met their primary endpoint in a Phase III trial. Specifically, a statistically significant percentage of patients taking both versions of the drugs responded favorably, based on criteria that the FDA uses to determine approval of chronic constipation treatments, the company stated. Plecanatide was safe and well tolerated at both dose, and the results were positive, the company reported. "These results strengthen our belief that plecanatide has the potential to not only effectively treat constipation but with a durability and tolerability profile that is ideal for chronic use," said Synergy CEO Gary Jacob. "We look forward to the results of our second pivotal trial in the coming weeks," he added.

WHAT'S NOTABLE: In a note to investors on May 22, Canaccord analyst Corey Davis initiated coverage of Synergy with a Buy rating. There is "a high likelihood" that data from the company's four Phase III trials due to be conducted over the next year will be positive and the company would be an attractive takeover target if its Phase III data is positive, Jacobs wrote. The analyst placed an $11 price target on the shares. Meanwhile, in March, Bloomberg reported that Synergy was talking to advisers about potentially selling the company after its competitor, Salix Pharmaceuticals, had agreed to be acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals  (VRX). After the company reported the trial results today, its CEO told Bloomberg that "all options are on the table."

IRONWOOD: The shares of Ironwood  (IRWD), whose Linzess drug also treats chronic constipation, are slipping today following Synergy's data readout. Canaccord's Davis had said that the diarrhea rate of patients taking Synergy's plecanatide had to come in at 10% or lower for the drug to achieve "best differentiation" versus Linzess. Patients taking the 3 mg dose of plecanatide had a diarrhea rate of 5.5%, while 5.9% of those taking the 6 mg dose experienced diarrhea, Synergy reported. Linzess is co-marketed by Ironwood and Forest Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Allergan  (AGN).

PRICE ACTION: In morning trading, Synergy surged 45% to $6.74, while Ironwood slid fractionally to $12.16.

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