Market Overview

Market Mixed Amid Plan To Spend $300 Million On Ebola Vaccines


Ebola-related pharma stocks were mixed Thursday amid plans announced to buy millions of doses of vaccines for the disease once the World Health Organization recommends a drug.

The Geneva Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or Gavi, committed to a plan it said may see up to $300 million spent on the vaccines, to be used to immunize at risk populations in affected countries.

Approved vaccines don't currently exist, although two candidates are now in the midst of human trials by GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) and a joint project of NewLink Genetics Corp (NASDAQ: NLNK) and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK).

Glaxo, Merck, as well as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), which expects an Ebola vaccine to soon enter clinical trials, each were nearly unchanged recently.

NewLink was off more than 5 percent Thursday after its Phase I Ebola trial got temporarily halted on safety concerns. The trial is expected to resume in January and a Phase II study is expected in early 2015.

Gavi, backed by 19 countries as well as OPEC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it could acquire up to 12 million courses of an approved vaccine

Funding could also be used to create stockpiles of first- and second-generation Ebola vaccines which countries can access rapidly in future outbreaks, Gavi said

Gavi already funds similar stockpiles for yellow fever, meningitis A and oral cholera vaccines.

Up to an additional $90 million could be used to support countries to introduce the vaccines and to rebuild devastated health systems and restore immunization services for all vaccines in Ebola-affected countries.

Other companies with Ebola-related projects in development:

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: BCRX) gained about 2 percent while Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NASDAQ: TKMR) fell nearly 4 percent and Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: SRPT) was off about 3.5 percent.


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