Fresh off Thursday’s amazing 280% stock pop, Intercept Pharmaceuticals defied gravity again on Friday, surging another 50% in morning trading. Intercept is flying high after positive results on a new liver disease drug that could help millions of patients in the US.
Intercept halted a trial for the drug, obeticholic acid, before its conclusion — or even 50% of patients had completed treatment — because the drug was apparently already working so well. Its goal is to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Analysts are excited about the the prospects for the new drug. Citigroup’s Jonathan Eckard writes that the news shows “major upside surprise and could make significant upside given it is a multi-billion dollar WW market and there are NO approved drugs. NASH is possibly one of the few remaining large untapped market that we could compare to the LDL or diabetes market and is rapidly growing.”
Janney analyst Jim Molloy says there are approximately 22 million Americans who suffer from NASH. “This is a very rare event, and a significant positive for the prospects for the drug,” he writes in a new note. “Importantly only ~50% of the trial participants had completed the trial… and the trial still hit statistical significance at a p=0.0024 which indicates the half that did finish the trial had an extremely robust response. We anticipate OCA could be a potential blockbuster drug for NASH if ultimately approved.”
As of 11:12am EST, Intercept stock traded at $426.50 per share for a market capitalization of $8 billion. As Forbes reported yesterday, the company is backed by Italian biopharma investment group Genextra, whose chairman is former billionaire Francesco Micheli.