Momentum is picking up for diabetes-focused biotech MannKind (MNKD). Shares surged 36% this week after MannKind’s presentation at the American Diabetes Association’s conference revealed some promising data for its inhaled insulin device, Afrezza.
Data from a switching study demonstrated that when patients with type 2 diabetes converted to Afrezza from a mealtime injected insulin, there was a notable (0.8%) drop in A1C (hemoglobin) levels after 14-weeks. Patients’ quality of life improved, too.
Additionally, four studies of patients with type 1 diabetes showed Afrezza can be effectively dosed at 1.5x to 2x the level of injected mealtime insulin, without raising any safety concerns.
The company also presented data from two Phase 3 studies which showed that treatment with Afrezza can result in less weight gain (at 52 weeks) as well as modest weight loss (at 26 weeks).
From a commercial perspective, a presentation highlighting Afrezza’s safety profile and advantages in front of an industry crowd could sow confidence in the product among physicians, which in turn, could lead to more sales.
BTIG analyst Robert Hazlett estimates Afrezza can achieve peak US sales of more than $400 million. Additionally, the 5-star analyst believes the data “reinforces positive Afrezza characteristics,” and that the device can “play a material role in diabetes management.”
Hazlett further said, “We believe Afrezza’s differentiated PK/PD profile can lead to improved safety, time in range, and even HbA1c, important metrics of glucose control for those with diabetes. We expect MannKind to generate increased physician awareness and demand for Afrezza through its revived focus on publishing data showing how to optimize Afrezza use.”
To this end, Hazlett maintained a Buy rating on MannKind along with a $4 price target. The implication for investors? Upside potential of a strong 107%. (To watch Hazlett’s track record, click here)
MNKD also has the Street’s backing. All three analysts that have reviewed the diabetes specialist over the past three months reached the same conclusion: Buy. MNKD’s Strong Buy consensus rating is tagged with a $3 average price target, indicating there is room for a possible 61% uptick over the next 12 months. (See MannKind stock-price forecast on TipRanks)
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