I decided to revisit my research into Allergan (NYSE:AGN) after I listened to network news and heard an interview with the network's resident physician gushing over the various conditions Botulinum Neurotoxin (Botox) can remedy. Several of these are off-label, but the medical establishment is well aware that this is often the only thing that works for various ailments and is natural; no or little negligible side effects compared to drugs. This was not a paid ad and I've seen the same doctor bash other companies and treatments. On this particular occasion, he was referring to overactive bladder and how many drugs either don't work or have serious side effects. Based on some research he was reviewing, injection of the toxin into the prostate doesn't actually shrink the prostate as some drugs attempt to do, but it relaxes the muscle, which in turn decreases the tendency to wake up at night and have that painfully annoying feeling. In light of recent highly publicized adverse safety events, he made special mention of the lack of side effects of this treatment.
For younger readers, this may not hit home, but for those afflicted with overactive bladder, I'm sure the routine interruptions to sleep and routine daily activity incent patients to pursue alternative options. There's currently a clinical trial underway seeking this indication as an official treatment following failure of primary drug treatment (which works less than 50% of the time, so the market is significant).
Additionally, there are myriad other treatments that Botox is being considered for. It's one of those surprise underdog treatments that is just now getting the attention it has probably deserved all along; it's no longer the butt of jokes related to treating wrinkles (for which a growing demand exists anyway based on demographics and increased social acceptance). That brings us to the parent company, Allergan.
When I start to see lesser-known products and therapies being covered in the mainstream press, I start thinking: research. Then I sometimes start thinking: buy. This was my philosophy with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), The Knot (KNOT), and most recently, Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX), which is still on fire (up again on a down market day). Allergan is a company with strong earnings, a product with heavy upside for new indications, limited competition (some new competitors with other products, but AGN will be ahead of them with newer indications as they simply seek to enter the cosmetic market while AGN diversifies indications), and strong recent performance. I expect the trend to continue and would recommend researching further and buying for your long-term portion of your portfolio (it plays off the aging demographic trend). Granted, some of these new approvals are a couple years off, but pharma and biotech trade on anticipated pipelines bearing fruit years out, not what happened this quarter (hence the reason why some Biotechs run up 5x-10x in a year before they've even turned their first profit and a company like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has languished even though its cash flow and earnings are nothing to sneeze at).
Here's a recent snapshot comparing AGN to the Pharma SDPR and the S&P500:
In addition to the above news link surrounding the use of Botox for overactive bladder, a little-known resource that is really a gold mine for independent analysis is the government's clinical trail database. This is a comprehensive list of all clinical trials currently underway sorted by company or keyword. If you want to know who's working on the next cure for a particular therapeutic category, or how strong a particular company's pipeline is, this is your repository. I've linked to the Allergan clinical trial screen, where I count more than 10 different trials for Botox alone, in addition to their other pipeline candidates.