One out of every 133 or 150 children [depending on which source you use] is born with autism. It is considered to be a developmental disability that results from a disorder of the human central nervous system impairing social interaction, communication, and other activities.
There are a couple ways to invest in the autism arena. One is to invest in the pharmaceutical companies that make drugs for treating the autism related disorders. The other is to find a company that is searching for a direct cure.
In the first category, there are several drug company options. Risperidal, developed and distributed by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a division of the New York Stock Exchange traded company Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), is an antipsychotic medication which is used in lower doses to treat autistic disorders and has FDA approval for use of the drug for symptomatic treatment of irritability in autistic children and teenagers.
Prozac [Fluoxetine hydrochloride] which is made by Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), also traded on the NYSE, has been approved by the FDA for both obsessive compulsive disorder and depression in autistic children age 7 and older. Ritalin is a Methylphenidate drug which, although generally used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has also been prescribed for children with autism. It is produced by the company Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), the ADR of which trades on the NYSE; however, the generic version of the drug far outsells Ritalin.
The other approach to autism stocks is Nastech Pharmaceutical Co. Inc. (NSTK), which is currently in a Phase 2 Trial of synthetic oxytocin through the use of a nasal spray. Autistic children have been found to have deficiencies of oxytocin. The company is also involved in the development of treatments for osteoporosis, obesity, inflammation, and metabolic diseases. As with many of these smaller pharmaceutical companies, they have negative earnings and a high price sales ratio of 9.65. Fortunately, year over year quarterly revenue growth was over 270%. Exercise caution before considering this stock since the market cap is only about $275 million.
As long as we are on this topic, I have two books I can recommend relating to autism. The first book is a novel and is called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is written by Mark Haddon. It is a mystery with the main character writing in first person is mildly autistic and a savant. It is a very unique writing style with the character writing in detail about what he sees and what he does and why he does it.
Mathematics is also weaved into the story, but it is interesting math, not boring math. For example, a prime number is a number that can only be divided into evenly by itself or the number one. So, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, are all prime numbers. If you assign a letter of the alphabet to each regular number [i.e. a=1, b=2, c=3, d=4], then assign those values to the letters in the name ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ the numbers will add up to a prime number. The same works for ‘Doctor Watson.’ The author of the book, who is British, has treated thousands of autistic individuals.
The other book, Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant written by Daniel Tammet, who is also British, is an autobiography of a mildly autistic savant.
Disclosure: Author has a nephew who is severely autistic and does not own any of the above stocks.