Barclays analyst Jonathan Eckard is cautiously optimistic now that Ionis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS) has tested its pipeline drug nusinersen, a short stretch of nucleic acid designed to treat spinal muscular atrophy, with positive phase 3 ENDEAR results. The success of this interim data in Eckard’s eyes could unlock the key to approval, or as the analyst deems it, is exactly “the boost that IONS needed.” In reaction, Eckard raises his price target from $26 to $41 as a reflection of nusinersen’s improved probability of success.
The ENDEAR study specifically evaluated the efficacy of nusinersen in treating infantile-onset spinal muscular atrophy. In achieving improvement in motor milestones and with all other endpoints pointing to “favored” treatment, Eckard believes the trial was a crucial “de-risking event for the program putting to rest lingering doubts that the drug is active.”
Eckard notes, “We expect the data is strong given prior nusinersen data and reiterated statements from IONS’ R&D day that no improvements in motor milestones would be expected in untreated patients. We also believe that “all” endpoints “favored” nusinersen (including the other co-primary endpoint) and will be important for both regulators as well as the drugs commercial profile (ENDEAR trial design here). Therefore we see regulatory risk significantly lower now.”
Additionally, coming up in the second quarter of 2016, the analyst thinks safety updates around additional gen 2.0 programs have the potential to be key drivers for Ionis shares, and of most consequence, Eckard looks to Phase 2 data for IONISFXI, an antisense drug designed to treat clotting disorders by inhibiting the production of clotting Factor XI. Bayer has a strong chance to opt-in considering FXI might help clotting risks to its key drug, Aspirin, and would support this late-stage pipeline drug.
As usual, we recommend taking analyst notes with a grain of salt. According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, Jonathan Eckard is a one-star rated analyst and has an average loss of 3.9% in his yearly returns with a 30% success rate. Eckard is ranked #3,399 out of 4,083 analysts.
TipRanks analytics demonstrates IONS stock is a Buy. Based on 8 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 4 rate a Buy, 3 maintain a Hold, and 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month average price target stands at $35.33, marking a close to 7% downside.
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