The healthcare sector which includes biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device stocks, continues to forge ahead despite recent concerns in the markets as some of the larger companies show attractive earnings growth potential all tied to new drug innovation, FDA approvals, and device roll-outs. A few industry professionals believe the healthcare sector coupled with stable earnings growth presents some sort of rising trend of enthusiasm as one of the more attractive sectors in the markets ahead. Healthcare and pharma stocks with developments and market performance of note include: Moleculin Biotech, Inc., Puma Biotechnology, Inc., Radius Health, Inc.,MannKind Corporation, and BioPharmX Corporation.

Moleculin Biotech, Inc., a preclinical pharmaceutical company focused on the development of anti-cancer drug candidates, some of which are based on license agreements with The University of Texas System on behalf of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, issued a letter to shareholders to provide an update on recent and planned activities at Moleculin.

Highlights included in the announcement from Moleculin: As an overview, we recently received Orphan Drug designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Annamycin and we continue to make progress toward submitting an IND for Annamycin for the treatment of relapsed or refractory adult AML. As well, the deadline for exercise of short-term warrants connected with our recent offering of common stock has now passed, removing over 5 million shares of overhang from our stock.

Potential: As we transition from a preclinical to a clinical-stage company, it is important to keep in mind the potential we see for Annamycin. The good news for AML patients currently is that bone marrow transplants are successful in curing AML about 80 percent of the time. The bad news, however, is that patients must first completely clear their bone marrow blasts (tumor cells) before qualifying for a transplant and the ‘induction therapy’ used to do so only succeeds about 20 percent of the time. That leaves about 80 percent of AML patients without hope because there is no approved second-line therapy once the first-line therapy fails.

Progress: The Orphan Drug designation granted to Annamycin as of March of this year for the treatment of AML (acute myeloid leukemia) represents a significant development milestone for Moleculin. The FDA grants Orphan Drug designation to investigational drugs to facilitate drug development for rare diseases which may provide several benefits to Moleculin, including assistance with clinical study design and drug development, tax credits for qualified clinical trial costs, exemptions from certain FDA application fees, and seven years of market exclusivity in the U.S. upon regulatory product approval.

Sector related market standouts this week includes:

Puma Biotechnology, Inc. closed up over 39 percent on Monday at $52.60 trading over 12.2 Million shares by the market close. Puma Biotechnology announced yesterday that the U.S. FDA posted briefing documents on its website in preparation for the May 24 Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) meeting scheduled to review PB272 (neratinib) for the extended adjuvant treatment of HER2-positive early stage breast cancer. ODAC is an independent panel of experts that evaluates data concerning the efficacy and safety of marketed and investigational cancer treatments and makes appropriate recommendations to the FDA. Its comments are not binding, but are considered by the FDA in its decision-making process.

Radius Health, Inc. also closed up on Monday over 6 percent at $37.24 trading over 7.4 Million shares by the market close. Radius Health announced that on May 15, 2017, the company’s board of directors granted Jose (Pepe) Carmona, the company’s chief financial officer, an option to purchase 125,000 shares of the company’s common stock with a per share exercise price of $34.96, the closing trading price of the company’s common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market on the grant date of May 15, 2017. The option vests 25 percent on the first anniversary of the grant date, with the remaining 75 percent to vest in monthly installments over the three years thereafter, and has a ten-year term.

MannKind Corporation closed up over 21 percent on Monday at $1.37 trading 8.6 Million shares by the market close. MannKind Corporation focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic products for patients with diseases such as diabetes.

BioPharmX Corporation closed up over 25 percent at $0.6165 on Monday trading over 7.39 Million shares by the market close. BioPharmX Corporation is a Silicon Valley-based specialty pharmaceutical company that seeks to provide products through proprietary platform technologies for prescription, over-the-counter and supplement applications in the health and wellness markets, including dermatology and women’s health.

Source: “Increasing Flurry of FDA Orphan Drug Development Activity Fueling Uptick of Enthusiasm for Few Pharma Stocks.” Pharmaceutical Processing. N.p., 23 May 2017. Web. 26 May 2017.

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