In early trading on July 6, Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) shares continued to blow past its all-time highs. The catalyst was news of two new late-stage trials for its antibody cocktail to prevent Covid-19. And that’s completely understandable.
For the last three months, investors have been profiting from the coronavirus economy. As news of potential treatments for the novel coronavirus advance through clinical trials, shares of biotech companies have been rising and falling on positive or negative data. It’s a poignant example of trading on the news.
Regeneron is Offering the Hope We All Want
Regeneron is starting a Phase 3 clinical trial. The trial is being conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and will focus on the cocktail’s efficacy at preventing disease in 2,000 people who were exposed to the virus from close contact with someone, like a roommate or family member.
The experimental cocktail is also being tested in a separate Phase 2/3 clinical trial aimed at 2,900 Covid-19 patients receiving treatment in hospitals and ambulatory settings.
"We are running simultaneous adaptive trials in order to move as quickly as possible to provide a potential solution to prevent and treat covid-19 infections," George Yancopoulos, co-founder, president, and chief scientific officer, said in a statement.
Regeneron’s antibody treatment was one of a number of treatments that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIAID, said made him “cautiously optimistic” in bringing the U.S. “closer to a good and effective therapy.”
Both of these treatments are being touted as “bridges” to a vaccine. But, in reality, they may be the best hope we have. The current pandemic is a puzzle without an easy solution. Even as Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) released optimistic news about its virus candidate, there is no guarantee that we will have a safe, effective vaccine.
At the very least, we should not want Pfizer or any of the other companies engaged in the vaccine race to rush a candidate to market.
That’s why Regeneron and other companies like it are so important. An anti-viral treatment can help buy time to allow society to reopen with less fear, while we buy time to get a vaccine ready.
But with the stock up just 2% in midday trading some investors may be questioning if the hope of a Covid-19 treatment is enough to bid up the stock. Fortunately, it’s not.
There’s More to Like About Regeneron
Many of the companies who are developing coronavirus treatments are relying on that as their moonshot. That’s not the case with Regeneron. The story of Regeneron is about more than the hope that it can deliver with its Covid-19 pandemic.
As a case in point, Regeneron is working with Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY) to develop an additional candidate for treating Covid-19 that requires repurposing the existing rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara. This treatment is not moving quite as smoothly through the process. This illustrates why it’s so important for Regeneron to have more swings at the plate.
And Regeneron has its own anti-inflammatory drug, Dupixent, that is seeing its sales soar. It’s also seeing increased sales from Eylea, its biologic drug for ocular health.
But that’s just the beginning. The company also has Libtayo, which is an immunotheraphy that targets a variety of cancers. Regeneron sought to expand the indication for the drug, and thus far has been successful in three clinical trials.
And finally, the company has a drug development system called VelociSuite that allows the company to quickly design genetic drugs. In a press release Regeneron described the VelociSuite of Technologies as follows:
”These technologies allow Regeneron scientists to determine which genes in the genome are the best targets for therapeutic intervention and then rapidly generate high-quality fully human antibodies as drug candidates addressing these targets.”
In This Case, First May Really be Best
The United States government has made some missteps in the fight against the novel coronavirus. And they certainly have been slow to act in some areas. But one area that they’ve been very effective at is unleashing biotech companies like Regeneron to speed antiviral treatments and vaccine candidates through the regulatory process.
And there’s another reality at work in this case. While today, we are confronting Covid-19, it wasn’t that long ago that we were dealing with the Swine Flu, the Bird Flu. There will be other viruses. If Regeneron’s treatment is effective with the novel coronavirus, it may put the United States in a better position to battle future illnesses.
And that’s the reason why Regeneron is surging today. But there are many reasons to buy the stock that won’t become apparent to many investors until well after the pandemic is over. But those are the exact reasons there’s still time for you to get on the Regeneron train and enjoy the ride.
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