Winners barely beat out losers last week as health care outshone climate change and gun control (among other topics) at the latest Democratic debate last week. (See our broader health-sector stock chart below.)
The clash over health care opened Thursday night in a sign that the issue is marking the dividing line among the Democratic field: sweeping change vs. building on the existing framework. Facing all of his closest competitors for the first time in a debate, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the Democratic front-runner, repeatedly invoked President Barack Obama’s name and policy record as a shield against rivals who suggested his own record was flawed, or implied his agenda lacked ambition.
On health care, immigration, foreign wars and more, Mr. Biden’s central theme was his tenure serving under Mr. Obama. By constantly citing Mr. Obama, a popular figure among Democrats, Mr. Biden sought to mute the ideological and generational divisions that have left him vulnerable in the primary race. Even though much-anticipated collisions between Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) failed to materialize, Biden did take shots at her and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) over how much “Medicare for All” will cost.
Here are the standout best and worst performers followed by our broader chart, where 55% of the 47 companies advanced and 45% lost ground:
1) T2 Biosystems Inc. (Nasdaq:TTOO) led advancing issues, more than doubling over the week to $2.88 after signing a $69 million funding deal with the Pentagon’s Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority for the development of its MR-based diagnostic for sepsis-causing pathogens and antibiotic-resistance genes. The cost-sharing contract calls for BARDA to pay an initial $6 million during the first base period and up to $63 million more if the remaining seven option periods are exercised to August 2024. The agreement also covers T2’s direct-from-blood panel to detect biothreat pathogens, according to an SEC filing.
In a separate release, the Lexington, MA-based company also announced the refinancing of a term loan and a contract with a group purchasing organization. The interest-only payment period on a term loan agreement with CRG Servicing was extended by a year, with principal payments slated to begin in March 2022. The restructuring also reduced the minimum revenue targets for 2020-2022 to below T2’s own forecast, the company said.
2) Elsewhere, Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:ACAD) soared 70% to $40.45.
The San Diego-based maker of the controversial psychosis drug Nuplazid said it is now halting a trial in dementia-related psychosis (DRP) after it saw promising interim results for the drug. Acadia stopped its Phase 3 Harmony study for Nuplazid after the drug showed a significant reduction over placebo in time to relapse for patients with DRP, the drugmaker said. The company said it plans to file for another FDA approval in 2020 and will submit its findings for presentation at upcoming medical meetings.
“We are very excited that today’s results bring us one step closer to the potential of offering patients with dementia-related psychosis a critically needed treatment option,” Acadia’s president Serge Stankovic said.
3) And cell and gene-therapy company Fibrocell Inc. (Nasdaq:FCSC), which focuses on transformational autologous cell-based therapies for skin and connective tissue diseases, rocketed 60% to $2.92 after announcing it will be acquired by Castle Creek Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. Under terms of the agreement, Castle Creek will acquire Fibrocell for approximately $63.3 million, including repayment of debt and other financial instruments, in cash.
Exton, PA-based Fibrocell common stockholders will receive all-cash consideration of $3.00 per share. Fibrocell’s portfolio includes FCX-007, an investigational, late-stage stage gene therapy product candidate for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), a congenital and progressive orphan skin disease caused by the deficiency of the protein COL7. A Phase 3 trial was initiated recently, and if successful, a Biologics License Application (BLA) filing is expected in 2021.
4) But Adverum Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq:ADVM) plummeted 52% to $5.87 after an early-stage update on the Menlo Park, CA-based company’s intravitreal gene therapy triggered investor concern. Patients in the trial with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) saw their vision deteriorate, despite signs that the treatment is improving retinal anatomy. Adverum unveiled 24-week data from the OPTIC trial of its experimental therapy, ADVM-022, in six patients who have been administered with one dose of the therapy. On average, patients in the trial had severe disease with an average of 6.2 anti-VEGF injections in the eight months prior to screening. Over the six month ADVM-022 treatment period, patients did not require any anti-VEGF rescue injections. There were no serious adverse events, and the majority of side-effects were mild. However, patients lost visual acuity by two letters on average.
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Weekly Stock Performance (as of September 13, 2019). P/E multiples based on predicted next annual earnings period. NM = Not meaningful