Medical technology has been exploding at an amazing rate since the decoding of the human genome, but what companies have the greatest potential from 2013 on? As a Family Practice physician I deal with a vast number of patients in all age groups, with conditions ranging from simple illnesses such as Influenza, to chronic issues like Type 1 & 2 diabetes.
Occasionally while I'm separately researching new methods of patient treatment and potential investments, a treatment stands out as having remarkable potential for both patient care and investing. These three companies are my top biopharma picks for 2013, and here's why:
Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO)
With a staff composed of composed of strong scientific minds and a vast history of successful vaccine development and discovery, including multiple ex-Merck employees, Inovio Pharmaceuticals has a large pipeline of DNA Vaccines that have blown through their phase I trials with amazing results. These include:
HIV - Pennvax-B / Pennvax-G
- Sponsored by HIV Vaccine Trial Network and U.S. Military HIV Research Program
- Best response in comparison to all other previously tested HIV vaccines with 88.9% (24 of 27 subjects) showing a positive immune response
Cervical Dysplasia (Run by Inovio)
- 92% (12 of 13 responders) displayed persistent immunization response to the end of the study 9 months later.
Influenza (Run by Inovio)
- Syncon, a universal vaccines for influenza stains is a major development as current vaccinations can only target single strains. It has successfully targeted 6 unmatched H5N1 strains tested, and 9 unmatched H1N1 strains tested
- Significant development for the elderly population, who are those most at risk for flu deaths. Has shown to increase generation of infection preventing antibodies by 100%.
- Phase II Clinical results showed an immune response in all subjects who were vaccinated
Many more including:
- Malaria trial (Sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates)
- Foot and Mouth Disease sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security
- Prostate Cancer & Hep-C run by Inovio starting in 2013
Why I'm excited
Historically vaccines are thought of as one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, as is shown by the eradication of Smallpox, near eradication of Polio, and the controlling of Hepatitis A/B, typhus, and rotavirus. However, certain major diseases still remain, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Malaria, diseases that if a vaccination were to be developed, would be monumental, diseases that Inovio is attempting to tackle with great success.
The DNA vaccination technology has been proven and approved for veterinary use with a high success rate, and so far phase I/II human trials have shown phenomenal results. Combine these results with an incredibly safe profile, especially when compared to traditional vaccines, and Inovios total of $0 debt, due to third party funding for trials, and you have a lot of potential for a stock that's trading at $0.50
An up-and-coming biopharma that engages in the development of treatments for diabetes and cancer, one specific treatment has the potential to revolutionize the Type 1 & 2 Diabetes patients lifestyles. AFREZZA, the company's leading candidate, is a rapid-acting mealtime insulin therapy in late stage clinical investigation for the treatment of adult patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus for the control of hyperglycemia. So far it has shown:
A significant reduction in post-meal glucose fluctuations
The ability to achieve comparable levels of overall glucose control
Lower fasting glucose levels
A lower risk of hypoglycemia
Less weight gain than is typically associated with other insulin treatments
Why I'm excited
Many of the patients I see are currently being treated for diabetes, and this number is expanding every day. In fact, diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world, and is extremely prevalent everywhere you look. Combine this magnitude with the limited number of treatments options currently available, and again you have a niche market primed for a breakthrough discovery.
I'm not just excited for Afrezza, but I am really praying it succeeds just for the quality of life improvement that many diabetics will have, including children who are dealing with needle sticks daily. I have high hopes, supported by the significant amount of insider investment, including the CEO Mr. Mann buying $103 million in shares in December 2012 alone. The more a company is invested in itself, the more confident I feel about their drug making it through approval.
Titan Pharmaceuticals (TTNP)
With the vast amount of prescription pain pills and illicit opiate based drugs on the market being easier than ever to obtain, it's no surprise that one of the worst addictions in society today is opioid dependence. Even worse than the actual addiction, is the terrifying withdrawal effects that anyone attempting to kick the habit experiences.
Titan pharmaceuticals produces an intradermal delayed release delivery system, similar to those seen in birth control implants, that delivers a consistent amount of Probuphine over several months to achieve a consistent delivery, and low possibility of tampering to promote a successful recovery.
After receiving priority review by the FDA, on March 21, 2013, The U.S. FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted to recommend approval of Titan Pharmaceuticals.
Why I'm excited
The opioid treatment market is currently dominated by Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, indicated for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. While effective, Suboxone comes in a tablet form that has a significant abuse potential. These tablets also have a habit of being found by small children in households leading to accidental ingestion or worse. Titan's intradermal rod greatly reduces the change of abuse in patients as well as accidental ingestion in children.
The only issue the FDA panel had with Titan's medication was their Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) plan, and after telling Titan how they would like to see it accomplished there is no doubt it will pass approval at the end of April.
In my opinion, Titan is a perfect buying opportunity after it took an unprecedented drop to $1.70 after passing the panel review. I would expect to see a significant run up from now till the PDUFA. I give approval a big chance as the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee clearly views alternate opioid treatments as a desperately needed treatment.
Looking into this new era of medical technology and the breakthroughs with significant potential, Inovio, Mannkind, and Titan are clearly three of the top picks with the most potential for a significant upside. Each company provides something very unique to the healthcare field, and the approval of any one of them will be nothing short of monumental for improving quality of life care in a vast number of patients.
Disclosure: I am long INO, MNKD. I may open a position in TTNP in the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.