Salem Radio Network News Saturday, February 4, 2023

Health

Biogen, Eisai stocks soar on landmark Alzheimer’s data, lift rivals

By Natalie Grover and Manas Mishra

(Reuters) -Shares in Biogen Inc and Japanese partner Eisai skyrocketed on Wednesday, as a surprise trial success of their experimental Alzheimer’s drug was hailed as an unequivocal win by Wall Street analysts.

The trial results released on late Tuesday could mark a rare victory in the search for a treatment for the memory-robbing disease after years of clinical failures.

Biogen’s stock surged 46.6% to $290.99 in premarket trading, putting it on track to add over $13.5 billion in market capitalization. Shares of Eisai jumped 17% to the daily limit in Tokyo.

Shares of rival Eli Lilly and Roche, which are developing rival treatments, rose 7.8% in U.S. premarket trading and 6% on the Swiss exchange, respectively.

Biogen and Eisai said their experimental drug, lecanemab, slowed progress of the brain-wasting disease by 27% compared with a placebo, in a large trial of patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

“This is pretty much a best-case scenario for the program as there doesn’t appear to be much ambiguity in the results,” said Baird analyst Brian Skorney.

BMO analyst Evan Seigerman called the data an “unequivocal win” for Biogen and Alzheimer’s patients.

The drug targets a toxic protein plaque known as amyloid beta that has long been considered crucial to arresting the progression of the fatal brain disease, but previous attempts have led to failure after failure.

This so-called amyloid hypothesis suffered a particularly heavy blow last year, after U.S. regulators overruled their own panel of outside experts to approve another Biogen drug called Aduhelm, based on its plaque-clearing ability rather than proof that it helped slow cognitive decline.

The latest trial boost for Biogen and Eisai’s lecanemab has raised hope for success in trials testing Roche’s gantenerumab and Lilly’s donanemab.

“There haven’t been many wins to celebrate, nor anything close to approaching a return on investment, so it is important that results like this are rewarded and incentivised,” said Daniel Chancellor, healthcare analyst at Citeline.

Shares of smaller Alzheimer’s drug developers also rose in premarket U.S. trading. Prothena Corporation Plc jumped 62%, while Acumen Pharmaceuticals Inc rose 47.3%.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely and Maju Samuel)

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