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8 Pharmaceutical Companies Working on a Coronavirus Cure in 2020

8 Pharmaceutical Companies Working on a Coronavirus CurePosted on Friday, March 20th, 2020 by MarketBeat Staff

We are living through interesting times. Not an hour goes by when Americans don’t receive some reminder of the impact the coronavirus has on our lives. The race is on for an effective, FDA-approved treatment for the virus. Despite, vaccines being available for human trial in record time, we are many months away from having a viable vaccine.

However, we may be somewhat closer in finding some antiviral treatments. And if you’ve watched the market closely this week, any news on that front tends to move the market in a positive direction.

That brings up another truth of investing. There are some stocks that thrive from other stocks misery. And that’s why we’ve put together this special report. If you’re an investor who is looking to jump into this bear market, the pharmaceutical sector is a logical choice.

A combination of big-name drug companies as well as smaller startup companies are working around the clock to develop vaccines or treatments that will target the infection caused by the novel coronavirus.

#1 - Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA)

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries logo

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) One of the most encouraging, but unproven, responses to treating the coronavirus came from Teva (NYSE:TEVA). The Israeli company announced its plans to donate six million tablets of the malaria drug hydroxychlorquine sulfate. The tablets are slated to arrive at U.S. hospitals by March 31. A total of 10 million tablets will be delivered within a month.

Using the drug to treat the coronavirus will be an off-label (i.e. unapproved) usage for the drug. However, based on evidence of some efficacy, the company is being asked to take this step. According to Teva spokeswoman Kelley Dougherty, officials from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked Teva about the feasibility of increasing shipments of hydroxychlorquine. President Trump has urged health authorities to expand its use.

“We’re directly responding to a need that was brought to us by the U.S. government,” Dougherty said. “This is a unique situation. We acknowledge that this is not currently for on-label use. But we are responding to the government and the promise that is being seen in the use of this product for Covid-19.”

Shares of Teva stock have surged over 14% since the news was released. However, the stock is still down over 25% in 2020.

About Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, a pharmaceutical company, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes generic medicines and a portfolio of specialty medicines worldwide. It operates through two segments, Generic Medicines and Specialty Medicines. The Generic Medicines segment offers sterile products, hormones, narcotics, high-potency drugs, and cytotoxic substances in various dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, injectables, inhalants, liquids, ointments, and creams. This segment also develops, manufactures, and sells active pharmaceutical ingredients. The Specialty Medicines segment provides specialty medicines for use in central nervous system and respiratory indications. Its products in the central nervous system area comprise Copaxone for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS; and AUSTEDO for the treatment of tardive dyskinesia and chorea associated with Huntington disease. This segment's products in the respiratory market include ProAir, ProAir Respiclick, QVAR, Duoresp Spiromax, Qnasl, Braltus, Cinqair/Cinqaero, and Aerivio Spiromax for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as Bendeka, Treanda, Granix, Trisenox, Lonquex, and Tevagrastim/Ratiograstim products in the oncology market. The company has collaboration arrangements with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited was founded in 1901 and is headquartered in Petach Tikva, Israel.

Current Price: $7.56
Consensus Rating: Hold
Ratings Breakdown: 6 Buy Ratings, 14 Hold Ratings, 4 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $11.65 (54.1% Upside)

#2 - Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

Pfizer logo

Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) - On the vaccine front, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) announced a deal with the German company BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) to co-develop and distribute a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus. Pfizer will be using BioNTech’s mRNA-based drug development platform. The agreement will exclude distribution in China. The plan is for the vaccine to go into U.S. and German clinical trials in late April.

The coronavirus vaccine is the latest example of the partnership between the two companies who have worked together in the past to develop mRNA-based influenza vaccines.

Leveraging expertise and resources of both companies" said BioNTech and Pfizer in a statement, the "collaboration aims to accelerate global development of BNT162," with cooperation beginning immediately, and clinical testing to begin in late April 2020. From start of testing to eventual approval (one hopes), could take perhaps 12 to 18 months.

Separately, BioNTech also made a deal to collaborate with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical on an experimental vaccine that will be begin human testing in China in April.

Shares of BioNTech are up 54% for the year. Pfizer stock is down over 20% in 2020.

About Pfizer
Pfizer Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures, and sells healthcare products worldwide. It offers medicines and vaccines in various therapeutic areas, including internal medicine, vaccines, oncology, inflammation and immunology, and rare diseases under the Lyrica, Chantix/Champix, Eliquis, Ibrance, Sutent, Xalkori, Inlyta, Xtandi, Enbrel, Xeljanz, Eucrisa, BeneFix, Genotropin, and Refacto AF/Xyntha brands. The company also provides consumer healthcare products that comprise over-the-counter medicines, including dietary supplement products under the Centrum, Caltrate, and Emergen-C names; pain management products under the Advil and ThermaCare names; gastrointestinal products under the Nexium 24HR/Nexium Control and Preparation H names; and respiratory and personal care products under the Robitussin, Advil Cold & Sinus, and ChapStick names. In addition, it offers products that would lose or have lost marketing patent protection; branded generic products; generic sterile injectable products; biosimilars; and anti-infectives under the Lipitor, Premarin family, Norvasc, Lyrica, Celebrex, Viagra, Inflectra/Remsima, Zyvox, Vfend, Revatio, Inspra, Medrol, Sulperazon, Fragmin, Tygacil, Nivestim, and Retacrit, Ixifi Infliximab BS names. Further, the company is also involved in the contract manufacturing business. It serves wholesalers, retailers, hospitals, clinics, government agencies, pharmacies, and individual provider offices, as well as disease control and prevention centers. The company has collaboration and/or co-promotion agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Astellas Pharma US, Inc., and Merck KGaA; licensing agreement with BionTech AG; and collaboration agreements with Merck & Co., Inc. and Eli Lilly & Company, as well as with Merck KGaA and Nektar Therapeutics to develop a therapy for treating pancreatic cancer. Pfizer Inc. was founded in 1849 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Current Price: $30.90
Consensus Rating: Hold
Ratings Breakdown: 5 Buy Ratings, 7 Hold Ratings, 0 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $41.48 (34.2% Upside)

#3 - Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN)

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals logo

Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN) and Sanofi currently collaborate on Kevzara (for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis) and Praluent (for the treatment of high cholesterol). The drug is being evaluated for its potential use in helping reduce inflammation in the lungs for patients with more severe cases of the coronavirus. The company anticipates receiving initial results within a few weeks of when patients become enrolled in the Kevzara study.

Regeneron is working separately on a “cocktail” of viral-neutralizing antibodies. The company believes that clinical testing could begin in early summer. “In order to meet the pressing public health need, Regeneron is applying its VeociMab technology to prepare manufacturing-ready cell line as lead antibodies are selected, so that clinical-scale production can being immediately,” a company spokesperson said.

If effective, it’s possible the cocktail can be administered prior to exposure to protect against infection. "The company is working toward the goal of producing hundreds of thousands of prophylactic doses per month by the end of summer and hopes to have smaller quantities available for initial clinical testing at the beginning of the summer." 

Shares of REGN stock are up over 25% in 2020.

About Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, discovers, invents, develops, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for treating various medical conditions worldwide. The company's products include EYLEA injection to treat wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema (DME); myopic choroidal neovascularization; and diabetic retinopathy in patients with DME, as well as macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, including macular edema following central retinal vein occlusion and macular edema following branch retinal vein occlusion. It also provides Dupixent injection to treat atopic dermatitis in adults, and asthma in adults and adolescents; Praluent injection for heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in adults; and Kevzara solution for subcutaneous injection for treating rheumatoid arthritis in adults. In addition, the company offers Libtayo injection to treat metastatic or locally advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; ARCALYST injection for cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes, including familial cold auto-inflammatory syndrome and muckle-wells syndrome; and ZALTRAP injection for intravenous infusion to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. Further, it is developing various product candidates for treating patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neuromuscular diseases, infectious diseases, and other diseases. The company has collaboration and license agreements with Sanofi, Bayer, Teva, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and others. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Tarrytown, New York.

Current Price: $449.52
Consensus Rating: Buy
Ratings Breakdown: 13 Buy Ratings, 10 Hold Ratings, 0 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $460.13 (2.4% Upside)

#4 - Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD)

Gilead Sciences logo

Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) - One of the world’s best known pharmaceutical companies, Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) is currently testing the effectiveness of its pneumonia drug, remdesivir, as a treatment for the coronavirus. Gilead is conducting worldwide trials. Although the majority of these trials are in the United States, there are three sites in Singapore and South Korea as well as a randomized, controlled clinical trial in Wuhan, China. The trial will end on April 1 with results coming in May.

In a nod to the speculative nature of what is happening right now, shares of Gilead stock soared nearly 10% when President Trump stated that remdesivir was “essentially approved”. However, the stock has since come off those highs after FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said testing was not complete, particularly as it related to dosage. Having the right drug, but the wrong dose “can cause more harm than good,” said Hahn at the White House briefing.   

Shares of Gilead stock are up over 20% in 2020. GILD is one of the few stocks that have been rising as the broader market is selling off.

About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences, Inc., a research-based biopharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, and commercializes medicines in the areas of unmet medical needs in the United States, Europe, and internationally. The company's products include Biktarvy, Descovy, Odefsey, Genvoya, Stribild, Complera/Eviplera, Atripla, and Truvada for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in adults; and Vosevi, Vemlidy, Epclusa, Harvoni, and Viread products for treating liver diseases. It also provides Yescarta, a chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy for adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma; Zydelig, a kinase inhibitor; Letairis, an oral formulation of an endothelin receptor antagonist for pulmonary arterial hypertension; Ranexa, a tablet to treat chronic angina; and AmBisome, an antifungal agent to treat serious invasive fungal infections. In addition, the company offers its products under the name Cayston, Emtriva, Hepsera, Sovaldi, and Tybost. Further, it develops product candidates for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and liver diseases, hematology/oncology, inflammation/respiratory diseases, and others. The company markets its products through its commercial teams; and in conjunction with third-party distributors and corporate partners. Gilead Sciences, Inc. has collaboration agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Janssen Sciences Ireland UC; Japan Tobacco Inc.; Galapagos NV; Scholar Rock Holding Corporation; Tango Therapeutics; National Cancer Institute; Pfizer, Inc.; Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc.; Gadeta B.V.; HiFiBiO Therapeutics; Agenus Inc.; HOOKIPA Pharma Inc.; Goldfinch Bio, Inc.; and insitro Inc. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Foster City, California.

Current Price: $72.85
Consensus Rating: Hold
Ratings Breakdown: 15 Buy Ratings, 9 Hold Ratings, 3 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $78.46 (7.7% Upside)

#5 - GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK)

GlaxoSmithKline logo

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - Another company experimenting with a coronavirus vaccine is GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). However, GlaxoSmithKline is not a pure play on the vaccine front, at least not for the coronavirus. The company is partnering with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to lend its vaccine adjuvant platform technology to any company that is working on a vaccine.

An adjuvant is used to enhance or augment the effects of a vaccine by boosting the immune system. This, in turn, makes the immune system respond more vigorously to a vaccine, providing increased immunity.

Glaxo is also partnering with the Chinese biotech company Clover Pharmaceuticals to allow its adjuvant technology to be used with the company’s vaccine candidate, Trimer.

Because the company is more indirectly involved in the battle against the coronavirus, it’s stock has not seen the same benefit as other pharmaceutical stocks. Shares of GSK stock are down over 17% for the year. However, value investors should still be attracted to the company’s dividend which is up over 6% since the stock’s recent decline.

About GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline plc engages in the creation, discovery, development, manufacture, and marketing of vaccines, over-the-counter medicines, and health-related consumer products worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceuticals, Pharmaceuticals R&D, Vaccines, and Consumer Healthcare. The company offers pharmaceutical products comprising medicines in the therapeutic areas, such as respiratory, anti-virals, central nervous system, cardiovascular and urogenital, metabolic, anti-bacterials, dermatology, rare diseases, immuno-inflammation, and HIV, as well as vaccines. It also provides consumer healthcare products in wellness, oral health, nutrition, and skin health categories primarily under the Otrivin, Panadol, Fenistil, Lamisil, Breathe Right, Stiefel, Excedrin, Physiogel, Polident, parodontax, Poligrip, Sensodyne, Theraflu, and Voltaren brand names. The company offers its consumer healthcare products in the form of tablets, caplets, infant syrup drops, syrups, topical gels, nasal sprays, effervescents, lozenges, gum and trans-dermal patches, malted drinks and foods, and topical creams and non-medicated patches, as well as toothpastes, toothbrushes, mouth rinses, medicated mouthwashes, gels and sprays, denture adhesives, and denture cleansers. It has a discovery collaboration agreement with Kymera Therapeutics LLC; a collaboration agreement with InSysBio LLC to develop quantitative systems pharmacology model of asthma; a strategic collaboration with NeuroMetrix, Inc. to develop and market Quell technology; and strategic alliance with Merck KGaA to jointly develop and commercialize M7824 (bintrafusp alfa), an investigational bifunctional fusion protein immunotherapy. GlaxoSmithKline plc also has a joint research collaboration with Fimbrion Therapeutics Inc. to develop a small molecule candidate for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections. The company was founded in 1715 and is headquartered in Brentford, the United Kingdom.

Current Price: $36.44
Consensus Rating: Hold
Ratings Breakdown: 5 Buy Ratings, 3 Hold Ratings, 3 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $45.00 (23.5% Upside)

#6 - Inovio (NASDAQ:INO)

Inovio Pharmaceuticals logo

Inovio (NASDAQ:INO) is a cautionary tale about why being first is not necessarily best when it comes to a vaccine. Inovio was one of the first companies to announce that it had a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. And Inovio has received a $5 million grant from CEPI to fund its preclinical and phase 1 clinial testing of its vaccine. Inovio expects the trial to start in April and is forecasting one million doses to be available by the end of the year.

That’s the good news. The more troubling news for investors is that the nature of vaccines is that not all of them are effective. And, even if they are, there’s no guarantee that Inovio will be the first to market. Both of these are headwinds on the stock. However, investors are buying Inovio because it is a growth stock. And it does have other drugs in its pipeline.

About Inovio Pharmaceuticals
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company, focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of DNA-based immunotherapies and vaccines to prevent and treat cancers and infectious diseases. Its SynCon immunotherapy design has the ability to break the immune system's tolerance of cancerous cells, as well as is intended to facilitate cross-strain protection against known, as well as new unmatched strains of pathogens, such as influenza. The company is involved in conducting and planning clinical studies of its proprietary SynCon immunotherapies for human papillomavirus-caused pre-cancers and cancers; bladder cancer; glioblastoma multiforme; hepatitis B virus; hepatitis C virus; human immunodeficiency virus; Ebola virus; middle east respiratory syndrome; and Zika virus. Its partners and collaborators include MedImmune, Limited; The Wistar Institute; University of Pennsylvania; GeneOne Life Science Inc.; ApolloBio Corporation; Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Genentech, Inc.; Plumbline Life Sciences, Inc.; Drexel University; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; United States Military HIV Research Program; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; National Institutes of Health; HIV Vaccines Trial Network; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

Current Price: $8.32
Consensus Rating: Buy
Ratings Breakdown: 7 Buy Ratings, 2 Hold Ratings, 0 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $9.00 (8.2% Upside)

#7 - Heat Biologics (NASDAQ:HTBX)

Heat Biologics logo

 If you’re interested in taking a flier on a penny stock, a candidate may be Heat Biologics (NASDAQ:HTBX). HTBX stock is up nearly 30% for the year. The reason is that it’s coronavirus vaccine candidate has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “draft landscape” of candidate vaccines. That makes Heat one of 41 possible vaccines in development.

Being one of 41 candidates is unremarkable. Like Inovio, there is no guarantee that Heat’s vaccine will pass muster. However, the company did join the Alliance for Biosecurity. Joining the alliance may help Heat “secure government funding to support its rapid development, production and distribution” of its coronavirus vaccine.

But the WHO designation will also benefit Heat for another reason. The United States government is pledging to throw $8 billion dollars to fight the spread of the virus. That money isn’t going to be sent to companies with unproven technologies. Being on the WHO list of approved vaccines makes it more likely that Heat will be a beneficiary.

About Heat Biologics
Heat Biologics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on developing approaches to activate and co-stimulate a patient's immune system against cancer in the United States. The company's T-cell activating platform (TCAP) produces therapies designed to turn immunologically cold tumors hot and be administered in combination with checkpoint inhibitors and other immuno-modulators to enhance clinical effectiveness. Its TCAP product candidates include ImPACT platform technology that develops product candidates consist of live, allogeneic off-the-shelf genetically-modified, and irradiated human cancer cells; and Combination Pan-antigen Cytotoxic Therapy, a dual-acting immunotherapy designed to deliver T-cell activation and enhanced, and T-cell specific co-stimulation in a single treatment. The company is developing HS-110 that is in Phase 2 clinical trial in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb's nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Its preclinical trial product candidates include HS-130 for the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer; and PTX-35 and PTX-15 for treating tumors and hematologic malignancies. The company was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina.

Current Price: $0.58
Consensus Rating: Buy
Ratings Breakdown: 3 Buy Ratings, 0 Hold Ratings, 0 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $5.33 (813.4% Upside)

#8 - Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Johnson & Johnson logo

The last company we want to bring to your attention is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). The company is still identifying a potential vaccine candidate. Like GlaxoSmithKline, JNJ initially is focusing on using its existing AdVac and PER.C6 technologies to improve the development process for a vaccine. Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer said in a statement, “…if we have a vaccine candidate with potential, we aim to make it accessible to China and other parts of the world.”

However, Johnson & Johnson is also preparing its own vaccine. The company is planning to have its candidate vaccine into a Phase 1 clinical trial by the end of the year. In February, the company announced it is working with BARDA to test its vaccine candidate with both organizations providing funding for research and development. Even though other companies have been faster to bring a vaccine to clinical trial, don’t sleep on the ability of Johnson & Johnson to be one of the primary vaccines in the future.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson are down over 14% in 2020.

About Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson, together with its subsidiaries, researches and develops, manufactures, and sells various products in the health care field worldwide. It operates in three segments: Consumer, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Devices. The Consumer segment offers baby care products under the JOHNSON'S brand; oral care products under the LISTERINE brand; beauty products under the AVEENO, CLEAN & CLEAR, DABAO, JOHNSON'S Adult, LE PETITE MARSEILLAIS, NEUTROGENA, and OGX brands; over-the-counter medicines, including acetaminophen products under the TYLENOL brand; cold, flu, and allergy products under the SUDAFED brand; allergy products under the BENADRYL and ZYRTEC brands; ibuprofen products under the MOTRIN IB brand; and acid reflux products under the PEPCID brand. This segment also provides women's health products, such as sanitary pads and tampons under the STAYFREE, CAREFREE, and o.b. brands; wound care products comprising adhesive bandages under the BAND-AID brand; and first aid products under the NEOSPORIN brand. The Pharmaceutical segment offers products in various therapeutic areas, including immunology, infectious diseases, neuroscience, oncology, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The Medical Devices segment provides orthopedic products; general surgery, biosurgical, endomechanical, and energy products; electrophysiology products to treat cardiovascular diseases; sterilization and disinfection products to reduce surgical infection; diabetes care products; and vision care products, such as disposable contact lenses and ophthalmic products related to cataract and laser refractive surgery. The company markets its products to general public, and retail outlets and distributors, as well as distributes directly to wholesalers, hospitals, and health care professionals for prescription use. It has research and collaboration alliance with Morphic Therapeutic. The company was incorporated in 1887 and is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Current Price: $123.16
Consensus Rating: Buy
Ratings Breakdown: 12 Buy Ratings, 2 Hold Ratings, 0 Sell Ratings.
Consensus Price Target: $160.17 (30.0% Upside)

The sooner there is a viable treatment for the coronavirus, the sooner we will all begin to see life return to whatever our new normal will be. For some of the companies listed in this presentation, any boost they receive in these next few months may be short-lived. Other companies are among the finest in the pharmaceutical sector.

Right now investors are looking to find whatever green shoots they can find. And these pharmaceutical companies are hiding in plain sight. However, there is a reason many of these stocks have such a low price. They are speculative stocks in the best of times. While it’s very important that the world’s leading companies develop vaccines and other treatments for the coronavirus quickly. Fast, and effective, are two different things. Any of these companies may be a long-term winner. But some of them may not be.

If you choose to add one or more of these stocks to your portfolio take care to monitor them carefully and set stop losses because they may move quickly as the race for a coronavirus cure continues.

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