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Still some pop in Benlysta

Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:HGSI) gained $446 million in market cap last week on the approval of Benlysta belimumab, benefitting from a better label and pricing than investors had expected.

The approval was announced post-market on Wednesday. On Thursday, HGS gained $3.35 (13%) to $29.03. Sliding a bit on Friday, the shares finished up $2.36 to $27.94 on the week.

Kurt von Emster of venBio said he'd heard whispers of a $1-$2 gain on approval, so "to see it up $3 is encouraging."

He noted that the label was less restrictive than some had feared, with no black box warning or REMS. It does not restrict usage among African American patients and patients of African heritage, but HGS and partner GlaxoSmithKline plc (LSE:GSK; NYSE:GSK) did agree to conduct a post-marketing study in that group as part of the approval.

Benlysta is approved to treat patients with active, autoantibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are receiving standard therapy. The label does not recommend its use to treat severe active lupus nephritis or severe active CNS lupus - populations not included in Phase III trials.

HGS also provided a $35,000 annual price estimate based on 10 mg/kg for a 73 kg (161 lb) patient, the average weight of U.S. and Canadian trial subjects.

That's above the $31,500 consensus on the Street, according to ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum. He estimated a $1 addition to NPV for every $1,000 difference in annual price relative to consensus, a roughly accurate prediction of the share price gain on Thursday.

The real world

Schoenebaum expects real world usage - requiring precise infused doses divided between 120 mg

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