Sarah Roden

About the Author Sarah Roden

Sarah writes about stock market news for TipRanks. She graduated as member of Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Biotech Stocks to Watch as Marijuana Tolerance Spreads: GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (GWPH), Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc (ZYNE) and Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY)

When marijuana was legalized in select states last year, college students weren’t the only ones cheering. The newfound tolerance for marijuana use has opened doors for biopharmaceutical companies exploring cannabis-based therapies for several diseases. This morning, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR (NASDAQ:GWPH) more than doubled in value after releasing positive data on a pipeline drug. Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ZYNE) and Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:INSY) are trading up 70% and 20%, respectively, as these companies are also exploring the horizons of cannabis-based medications.

GW Pharmaceuticals PLC- ADR

In an exciting breakthrough for the company, GWPH announced positive data this morning for Epidiolex; a pipeline cannabinoid-based therapy intended to treat a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet’s Syndrome. There are currently no approved treatments for this condition in the U.S. and the pipeline treatment has received Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA. After Phase 3 testing, the company announced that Epidiolex had achieved its primary endpoint in effectively reducing convulsive seizures in children.

Epidiolex is the company’s lead pipeline candidate and is produced with pure plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD), which is one of the active cannabinoids in cannabis. The company has been researching CBD for epilepsy therapy since 2007. The company has one commercialized product, Sativex, built on a cannabinoid platform to treat the spasticity from multiple sclerosis.

The company’s CEO, Justin Gover, stated, “The positive outcome of this Phase 3 trial is a significant milestone in the development of Epidiolex as a potential new treatment for patients suffering from Dravet syndrome. We are excited about the potential for Epidiolex to become the first FDA approved treatment option specifically for Dravet syndrome patients and their families.”

According to TipRanks, both analysts who have rated GWPH in the last 3 months are bullish on the stock with an average 12-month price target of $123.50, marking a 50% potential upside from current levels.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc

Zynerba is on the tails of GW Pharma and is also developing therapies through a cannabinoid platform. The company has therapies for refractory epilepsy, osteoarthritis, Fragile X syndrome, and fibromyalgia all in Phase 2a testing. The company posted earnings today but since it does not have any commercialized products, all revenues come from licensing and research partnerships. The company posted revenue of $49,000 and a loss per share of ($0.62).

In its earnings report the company also highlighted initial positive data on ZYN002, a gel that is in testing to treat refractory epilepsy, osteoarthritis, and Fragile X Syndrome. Furthermore, the FDA has granted the pipeline drug Orphan Drug Designation for its Fragile X syndrome indication.

According to TipRanks, both analysts who have weighed in on the stock in the last 3 months are bullish with an average 12-month price target of $38.50, marking a 163% potential upside from current levels.

Insys Therapeutics Inc

Insys is another biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments using a cannabinoids. The company has one approved product, Subsys, used to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients. The company’s pipeline includes treatments for pain, opioid dependence, and certain types of cancer.

The company released disappointing news last week after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the US declined to institute an inter partes review on the patents covering Subsys. Management remained optimistic, noting that the dismissal is indicative of the company’s cutting edge efforts.

Although shares dipped on this news, the company is already trading up 20% thanks to the positive data from GW Pharma, which is a promising indicator for the cannabinoid pharmaceutical area.

According to TipRanks, all 3 analysts who have rated INSY in the last 3 months are bullish on the stock. The average 12-month price target between these 3 analysts is $39.33, marking a 95% potential upside from current levels.


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