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Alexion's New CEO Ludwig Hantson is making major executive changes

By Mitchell Young

New Haven: In spite of unexpected sales and earnings growth announced by Alexion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: ALXN] just weeks ago, the company’s stock has been dropping for most of the past month. The stock took a huge hit with a nearly 10% fall in value on May 23.

There may be a lot of action in the stores on Broadway, but when it comes to corporate board room drama, New Haven at least until now has been a sleepy little college town.

Well everyone is awake at 100 College Street, the one day stock dive followed the announcement that Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., Alexion’s newly appointed CEO is making major changes in the C Level Suite.

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Graphic Describing Achillion's Technology For Drug Development


New Haven: Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. [Nasdaq: ACHN] today reported financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2017.

The company continues to show quarterly losses but with still have more than $386 million in cash and short-term securities. For the first quarter of 2017, the Company reported a net loss of $20.2 million or $0.15 per share, compared with a net loss of $18.1 million or $0.13 per share for the first quarter of 2016.

In 2016 Achillion entered into a marketing and development agreement for its Hepatitis C drugs with Jansen Pharmaceuticals  a division of Johnson & Johnson. The deal brought a $225 million purchase of stock along with agreed upon payments and royalties as “benchmarks” are reached. The agreement netted Achillion $15 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The heavy lifting for the Hep C drugs is being done by Jansen and Achillion is focusing on new drug development.

Research and development expenses for the company were $15.5 million in the first quarter of 2017, nearly a $2 million increase from the prior year. The spending is for a set of new drugs that the company is hoping to develop is and putting it clinical trials.

Across the street from Achillion, Alexion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: ALXN] is doing $3 billion treating a rear disease PNH (Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria), with its breakthrough drug Soliris.

Alexion logo colorBy Mitchell Young

New Haven: Worry warts that reacted to Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s [Nasdaq: ALXN] announcement that it was trimming its world wide work force by 5% will be surprised by the company’s  first-quarter 2017 financial results

Revenues rose 24.1% year over year to $870 million, exceeding analysts expectations of $821 million.  There was a small benefit from an accounting change, but reveneus increased by 20% organically.

Shares of Alexion were up more than 5% at the end of trading, in response to the better-than expected results.

The news comes at a good time for the stock as drugs competitive to its flag ship product Soliris started getting some headlines with clinical trial announcements. Soliris sales however continued to rise as the company has found new disease treatments for the drug. The best news for investors is that the company’s big acquisition bets [more than $10 billion total] are starting to show up in sales.

biohavenBy Mitchell Young

New Haven: Biohaven Pharmaceuticals founded in 2013, is developing treatments for neurological diseases and rare disorders, announced terms for its IPO.  The company plans to raise $125 million by offering 8.3 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16 and will be listed on the NYSE, with the symbol BHVN.

Insiders will reportedly purchase $70 million worth of shares in the offering (56%), providing the company a fully diluted market value of $546 million [at the midpoint of the IPO range]. Morgan Stanley, Piper Jaffray and Barclays are the joint underwriters, and the stock is expected to price during the week of May 1, 2017.

jackson lab logoFarmington:  Jackson Labs continues to attract an eclectic mix of grants for its genomic research efforts. Among the most recent, a two-year grant totaling $455,000 from the National Institutes of Health to Michael V. Wiles, Ph.D., senior director of Technology Evaluation and Development. According to the lab, the grant will support research to “improve the accuracy and efficiency of genome editing for research, drug testing and future therapeutic delivery.”

The technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 has “revolutionized scientists’ ability” to edit the genomes of plants and animals, including mice and humans, to study and manipulate the genome. Wiles is hoping to make the genetic modifications more “consistent and reproducible,” especially when inserting “long segments of DNA into a genome.”

achillion logoBy Mitchell Young

New Haven: Achillion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: ACHN] presented data on its three drug combination to treat Hepatitis C, at The International Liver Congress in Amsterdam in late April, just a week before the national kick-off of Hep C Awareness Month.

Achillion sold the marketing and developing rights to their Hepatitis C drugs in 2015 to Jansen Pharmaceuticals a division of Johnson and Johnson [NYSE: JNJ]. J&J paid $225 million in an upfront purchase of stock at $12.50 per share, double the then share price and about four times the current price per share. Additionally, Jansen agreed to additional payments as various clinical testing, approvals and sales benchmarks were reached. Achillion said at the time the deal would be worth at least $1 billion to the company if the drugs eventually reached the market and were well received.

Screen shot 2017 04 14 at 12.03.12 AMSTAMFORD: Cara Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:CARA), a biotechnology company focused “new chemical entities” designed to alleviate pain and pruritus [itching] closed on a public offering of 5,117,500 shares of its common stock $18.00 per share.

Cara said it will use the funds for the clinical and research development activities, including the completion of the Phase 3 program for I.V. CR845 in uremic pruritus, two Phase 3 trials of I.V. CR845 in acute pain and a Phase 2b trial of oral CR845 in osteoarthritis pain, as well as for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Cara’s says its drugs work differently than “existing mu opioid, NSAID or acetaminophen, and provides pain relief without the significant side effects you find in yesterday’s and today’s medicines.”

The Company reported a net loss of $22.0 million, or $0.81 per basic and diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to a net loss of $9.5 million, or $0.35 per basic and diluted share, for the same period of 2015.