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10 Biotech Winners And Losers In Q1

10 Biotech Winners And Losers In Q1

The quarter was brutal to say the least for most asset classes amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The S&P 500 Index was down about 20% for the quarter.

Amid the market mayhem, some health care stocks defied the downturn, thanks to announcements concerning development of drug/vaccine/diagnostic tests for new coronavirus.

Focusing on biotechs (leaving out diagnostics stocks), here the top five winners and losers for the quarter.

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The Winners

Genprex Inc (NASDAQ: GNPX): (+656.25%)

After ending 2019 in penny stock territory, shares of this gene therapy company began to gain ground after the company announced Fast Track Designation for its immunogene therapy in combination with AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN) Tagrisso for treating lung cancer. The momentum accelerated after it signed an exclusive agreement to license a diabetes gene therapy from the University of Pittsburgh.

After topping $7 in late February, the stock came off the highs amid the COVID-19 sell-off and managed to end the quarter with huge gains.

Vaxart Inc (NASDAQ: VXRT): (+405.71%)

Vaxart is a COVID-19 play and much of the quarter's gains were achieved on the back of the experimental oral vaccine candidate it's developing in partnership with Emergent Biosolutions Inc (NYSE: EBS).

Ibio Inc (NYSE: IBIO): (+324%)

Ibio, which develops human therapeutic proteins using advanced genetic engineering, joined the fray for a COVID-19 vaccine, which explains the surge in the stock.

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) (+241.2%)

Novavax was the beneficiary of dual catalysts: a COVID-19 vaccine in development and positive late-stage readout for its flu vaccine.

Trillium Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: TRIL): (+192.23%)

This immuno-oncology company did not have much developments to justify its gain for the quarter.

Following a jump of about 63% in a single session in late February, the company issued a statement that said "it is not aware of any material, undisclosed information related to the company that would account for the recent increase in the market price and level of trading volume of its common shares."

Related Link: Attention Biotech Investors: Mark Your Calendar For These April PDUFA Dates

The Losers

Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: MIST): (-88.51%)

This cardiovascular-diseases-focused biopharma was cruising along fine until COVID-19 sell-off started in March. The real punch came from an adverse clinical readout.

Novan Inc (NASDAQ: NOVN): (-84.97%)

Novan, which leverages on nitric oxide's naturally occurring anti-microbial and immunomodulatory mechanisms of action to treat various diseases, fell steeply at the start of the year. The trigger was a late-stage readout of its SB206 in molluscum contagiosum, which showed that the pipeline asset did not achieve statistically significant results for the primary endpoint.

The stock did not recover from this onslaught.

Acasti Pharma Inc (NASDAQ: ACST): (-84.49%)

Acasti also succumbed to a negative clinical readout for its lead prescription drug candidate CaPre, which did not achieve statistical significance for the primary endpoint of a late-stage study that evaluated it for treating elevated levels of triglycerides.

The company is now seeking FDA guidance for unblinding data from another Phase 3 study, and therefore expects a delay in reporting of topline results until the third quarter.

Salarius Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: SLRX): (-81.98%)

This oncology-focused biotech gradually declined through the quarter, with some steep sell-off materializing amid its presentation at the BIO CEO & Investor conference in mid-February.

Amarin Corporation plc (NASDAQ: AMRN): (-81.34%)

Amarin shares, which ran up ahead and after the late-December FDA verdict on its application seeking label expansion for its fish oil pill, pulled back in January. The weakness intensified through the market meltdown. A negative court ruling sent the stock reeling this week.


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