Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc (REGN) said Thursday it started the first human clinical trial of REGN-COV2, its investigational dual antibody cocktail for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
The REGN-COV2 clinical program will consist of four separate study populations: hospitalized COVID-19 patients, non-hospitalized symptomatic COVID-19 patients, individuals that are at high-risk of exposure, such as healthcare workers or first responders, and people with close exposure to a COVID-19 patient. The placebo-controlled trials will be conducted at multiple sites.
“We have created a unique anti-viral antibody cocktail with the potential both to prevent and treat infection, and also to preempt viral ‘escape,’ a critical precaution in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic,” said George D. Yancopoulos, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “REGN-COV2 could have a major impact on public health by slowing spread of the virus and providing a needed treatment for those already sick – and could be available much sooner than a vaccine.”
Yancopoulos added that the antibody cocktail approach would also be useful for elderly and immuno-compromised patients, who often do not respond well to vaccines.
REGN-COV2’s preclinical development and manufacturing has been funded in part with federal funds from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
Shares in Regeneron have surged 62% so far this year. The stock declined 1.7% to $596.18 in early afternoon trading.
Five-star analyst Alethia Young at Cantor Fitzgerald this month raised the stock’s price target to $624 (3.7% upside potential) from $400 and maintained a Hold rating, saying its drug pipeline faces stiff competition in the generics market.
“Potential upside may come from a sustainable commercial COVID-19 franchise, where studies should begin soon,” Young wrote in a note to investors.
What does the rest of the Street have to say? The 20 analysts are divided evenly between 10 Buy and 10 Hold ratings adding up to a Moderate Buy consensus. In view of the stock’s recent rally, the analysts’ $573.26 average price target is less optimistic than Young’s indicating a mere 3.5% downside potential in the coming 12 months. (See Regeneron stock analysis on TipRanks).
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