The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a boon for many biopharma companies that benefited from their foray into the development of vaccines and/or treatments against the novel coronavirus. Shares of most of them reached incredibly high valuations even after discounting for the COVID opportunity.
What Happened: Most COVID-related biopharma stocks are moving sharply lower Friday. Shares of Moderna, Inc. MRNA and othes came under significant selling pressure for most of the week. The weakness was in part due to the broader market sell-off, triggered by higher bond yields and expectations of removal of monetary policy accommodation amid rising inflation.
Additionally, the prospect of the pandemic ending soon is seen as a negative for these companies, which are heavily invested in their vaccine/therapy programs. Except for some that have taken their programs past the finish lines, others are yet to realize any returns on their investments in COVID programs.
A Sympathy Move? The most recent trigger for the sell-off is a positive readout reported by Merck & Co. Inc. MRK for its COVID-19 therapy.
Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced that molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral medicine, significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death at a planned interim analysis of the Phase 3 MOVe-OUT trial in at risk, non-hospitalized adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.
At the recommendation of an independent Data Monitoring Committee and in consultation with the FDA, recruitment into the study is being stopped early due to these positive results. Merck said it plans to submit an application for emergency use authorization to the FDA as soon as possible based on these findings and plans to submit marketing applications to other regulatory bodies worldwide.
Related Link: Why Moderna Is Investing In A New Science Center
Price Action: At last check, Moderna shares were down 15.78% at $324.14
BioNTech SE BNTX was down 14.66% at $ 232.98.
Novavax, Inc. NVAX shares were pulling back a steeper 19.93% to $166.
Pfizer Inc. PFE was slipping 2.50% to $41.93.
CureVac N.V. CVAC was slumping 16.32% to $45.71.
Johnson & Johnson JNJ was losing 1.48% to $159.12.
AstraZeneca PLC AZN shares were receding 1.50% to $59.16.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN, which has received authorization for its antibody treatment, was down 6.56% to $565.50.
Merck, a late-entrant to the COVID party, was seen gaining 9.20% to $82.02.
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