A Glimpse Into Two Falling Biotech Stocks: Neuralstem, Inc. (CUR), Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc (PCRX)


Neuralstem Shares Collapse on Clinical Setback

Shares of Neuralstem, Inc. (NASDAQ:CUR) were hit hard Tuesday after news that its MDD drug failed a key clinical trial. The drug, called NSI-189, is the lead compound in Neuralstem’s neurogenic small molecule program. Unfortunately, this trial did not meet its primary endpoint of a statistically significant reduction in depression symptoms on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).

“Depression is an important and complex area of clinical development,” said Maurizio Fava, MD, Director of the Division of Clinical Research and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the principle investigator of the trial.  “NSI-189 is a novel small molecule that has shown a potential signal of efficacy in this trial. We are encouraged by its emerging clinical profile, and continuing the clinical evaluation of NSI-189 to pursue its full potential is warranted.”

“I would like to thank the team at Neuralstem for their seamless execution of the Phase 2 trial, and thank the investigators and patients for their participation,” said Rich Daly, chairman and CEO, Neuralstem. “The directionally positive signals across multiple depression scales are encouraging and we look forward to further evaluation of the full dataset in the coming months.”

As of this writing, Neuralstem shares are down nearly 60% to $2.39. CUR has a 1-year high of $6.60 and a 1-year low of $0.31. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $5.50 and its 200-day moving average is $4.66.

All the 3 analysts polled in the past 12 months rate Neuralstem stock a Buy. With a return potential of 27%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $3.07

Pacira Pharmaceuticals Shares Seek Floor After Sell-Off 

Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:PCRX) share are down nearly 15% to $41.65, after the pharma firm announced mixed top line results from its nerve block studies of Exparel in femoral nerve block in TKA and brachial plexus nerve block in rotator cuff/shoulder arthroplasty. While the brachial plexus nerve block trial met its primary endpoint, the femoral nerve block trial failed due to inconsistent injection technique/ protocol violations at a single, high-enrolling study center.

Mizuho analyst Irina Rivkind Koffler commented, “We attribute this deficiency to poor site training and monitoring by the company rather than to a deficiency in Exparel. While results of the combined data set failed to meet expectations, we still expect eventual approval in nerve block. We view today’s weakness as a buying opportunity for investors that believe in a company sale (and we don’t think that takeout prospects have been lowered by the data reported today).”

As such, Koffler reiterated a Buy rating on Pacira shares, with a price target of $54, which implies an upside of 31% from current levels. (To see Koffler’s track record, click here)

Out of the 9 analysts polled in the past 3 months, 7 rate Pacira stock a Buy, while 2 rate the stock a Hold. With a return potential of nearly 36%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $56.29.