Pot stocks soaring, cannabis industry poised for 'tons of growth'

koamnewsnow | April 19, 2019

(CNN) - For decades, though nobody was really sure why, April 20 has been the unofficial holiday for marijuana users and a joke by and about them. Now, though, it's also a reminder of how quickly marijuana is moving from illegal and a joke to a multi-billion-dollar legal business and a good time for us to take another look at how well cannabis stocks have been doing. Publicly traded cannabis companies have reported strong sales since Canada legalized pot last October and several US states voted to approve recreational and medical marijuana use. Cannabis has also gone mainstream thanks to big investments and partnerships between marijuana sellers and blue-chip consumer companies. Corona owner Constellation Brands has a more than 35% stake in Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis company that intends to take a bigger step into the United States with plans to buy American cannabis firm Acreage Holdings. Constellation also disclosed Thursday it may eventually boost its stake in Canopy to 50%.

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Announces Inducement Grants Under NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

Ligand Pharmaceuticals | August 02, 2022

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated announced that effective August 1, 2022, Ligand’s Board of Directors approved the grant of non-qualified stock option awards to purchase an aggregate of 90,073 shares of its common stock, 5,000 restricted stock units and 4,000 performance stock units the target level to six non-executive employees. The options were granted on August 1, 2022, and the grant date for the RSUs and the PSUs will be the date on which Ligand files a Form S-8 Registration Statement to register the shares pursuant to Ligand’s 2022 Employment Inducement Plan. The awards were granted under the Inducement Plan as employment inducement awards pursuant to NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Inducement Plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Ligand, or following a bona fide period of non-employment, as an inducement material to such individuals’ entering into employment with Ligand, pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The options have an exercise price of $89.70 per share, which is the closing price of Ligand’s common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on August 1, 2022. The stock options have a term of ten years and will vest over four years, with 12.5% of the shares vesting six months after the employee’s commencement of employment and the balance of the shares vesting in 42 equal monthly installments thereafter, subject to the grantee’s continued service on such vesting dates. The RSUs will vest over three years on the first three anniversaries of the grantee’s commencement of employment, subject to continued service through each applicable vesting date. The PSUs will vest based on the achievement of certain total shareholder return objectives and the completion of the contemplated spin-off of OmniAb, Inc. from Ligand. The number of shares earned under the PSUs may be up to 6,500 in the aggregate if maximum performance levels are achieved. About Ligand Pharmaceuticals Ligand is a revenue-generating biopharmaceutical company focused on developing or acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. Our business model creates value for stockholders by providing a diversified portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical product revenue streams that are supported by an efficient and low corporate cost structure. Our goal is to offer investors an opportunity to participate in the promise of the biotech industry in a profitable, diversified and lower-risk business than a typical biotech company. Our business model is based on doing what we do best: drug discovery, early-stage drug development, product reformulation and partnering. We partner with other pharmaceutical companies to leverage what they do best (late-stage development, regulatory management and commercialization) ultimately to generate our revenue. Ligand’s OmniAb® technology platform is a patent-protected transgenic animal platform used in the discovery of fully human monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies. The Captisol® platform technology is a patent-protected, chemically modified cyclodextrin with a structure designed to optimize the solubility and stability of drugs. Ligand’s Pelican Expression Technology® is a robust, validated, cost-effective and scalable platform for recombinant protein production that is especially well-suited for complex, large-scale protein production where traditional systems are not. Ligand has established multiple alliances, licenses and other business relationships with the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen, Takeda, Gilead Sciences and Baxter International.

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Saudi Ministry of Investment and Insilico Medicine sign agreement to expand region’s biotechnology capabilities

Insilico Medicine | September 15, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment and clinical stage artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company Insilico Medicine have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the development of a robust AI-driven biotech industry in the Kingdom. The agreement was signed during the Global AI Summit, held from the 13th through the 15th of September in Riyadh, which featured over 200 speakers representing 90 countries discussing the future of AI, including Insilico Medicine founder and CEO Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD. Sara Althari, PhD, senior researcher and MISA advisor, spearheaded the agreement. MISA and Insilico Medicine will work on shared initiatives that build on the capabilities of Insilico’s end-to-end AI-powered drug discovery platform, PharmaAI. Drawing on trillions of data points, the platform has three distinct but interconnected elements – novel AI target discovery novel AI drug design and AI clinical trial prediction. Under the terms of the MoU, Insilico will share its expertise and software platform with local biotech companies to support and accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Through the partnership, the MoU also seeks to spur the development of new biotech companies. Insilico will also work with Saudi companies on robotics-aided drug design and clinical trial design and best practices. The Company is launching a fully autonomous AI-run robotics lab that will perform experiments, capture data, and further validate its AI-discovered and designed drugs later this fall. The Company’s clinical trial prediction tool, InClinico, is designed to help researchers and companies plan trials with greater statistical likelihood of Phase 2 success. There will be additional partnership opportunities in other areas where Insilico’s AI platform has shown promise, including the support and initiation of projects related to healthy longevity and support for green chemistry initiatives, including the development of sustainable chemicals and crop protection solutions. “As someone who decided to dedicate his life to extending healthy productive longevity for everyone on the planet, I applaud Saudi Arabia’s new initiatives in this most impactful area of research. As a company, we are encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s vision to increase its digital economy and play a meaningful role in the future of drug discovery using AI and robotics. We look forward to working together to expand the region’s biotech sector and partnering with established and emerging companies as well as academic and research institutions in order to explore the full potential of our end-to-end AI platform.” Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine Over the past year, MISA has signed MoUs with a number of pharmaceutical and technology companies to grow its biotech sector, including Novartis, Janssen, AstraZeneca, GSK and Roche, as well as Amazon Saudi Arabia. Insilico Medicine, a company which bridges pharma and tech, is the first AI-driven drug discovery company to sign such an agreement in the region. About Insilico Medicine Insilico Medicine, a clinical stage end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques to discover novel targets and to design novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is delivering breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases and aging-related diseases.

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PHARMACY MARKET

Astellas Announces Topline Results from Phase 3 Long-Term Safety Study of Fezolinetant in Mainland China

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 05, 2022

Astellas Pharma Inc. announced topline results from the Phase 3 MOONLIGHT 3™ clinical trial in women in mainland China evaluating the long-term safety and tolerability of fezolinetant, an investigational oral, nonhormonal compound being studied for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause. MOONLIGHT 3 is a 52-week single-arm Phase 3 clinical trial investigating the long-term safety and tolerability of fezolinetant 30 mg taken once daily in 150 women in mainland China seeking treatment for relief of VMS associated with menopause. The study's primary endpoint is the frequency and severity of adverse events which were generally consistent with previous Phase 3 studies of fezolinetant. Detailed results will be submitted for publication in the near future. "The topline results from the MOONLIGHT 3 study are very encouraging and, upon initial review, further support the long-term safety of fezolinetant. We are evaluating the full MOONLIGHT data sets and remain committed to developing innovative treatments in this therapeutic area with the hope of delivering a first-in-class, nonhormonal treatment option for women with moderate to severe VMS." Ahsan Arozullah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Head of Development Therapeutic Areas, Astellas Fezolinetant is an investigational selective neurokinin-3 receptor antagonist and is not approved anywhere in the world. In the U.S., a New Drug Application for fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause is under review. The NDA submission is based on results from two pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials, SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™, and the Phase 3 long-term safety study, SKYLIGHT 4™. About the MOONLIGHT Phase 3 Clinical Trials MOONLIGHT 1™ is designed to investigate the efficacy and safety of fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause in women in Asia. The study is double-blinded and placebo-controlled for the first 12 weeks, followed by a 12-week non-controlled extension treatment period. A total of 302 women with moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause were enrolled at nearly 60 sites in mainland China, Korea and Taiwan. MOONLIGHT 3™ is a 52-week single-arm Phase 3 clinical trial designed to investigate the long-term safety and tolerability of fezolinetant in women in mainland China with VMS associated with menopause. A total of 150 women were enrolled at 34 sites in mainland China. About the BRIGHT SKY™ Phase 3 Program The BRIGHT SKY pivotal trials, SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ enrolled over 1,000 women with moderate to severe VMS. The trials are double-blinded, placebo-controlled for the first 12 weeks followed by a 40-week treatment extension period. Women were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. SKYLIGHT 4™ is a 52-week double-blinded, placebo-controlled study designed to investigate the long-term safety of fezolinetant. For SKYLIGHT 4, over 1,800 women with VMS were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. About VMS Associated with Menopause VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 Worldwide, more than 50% of women 40 to 64 years of age experience VMS and, in East Asia, the prevalence of VMS has been estimated to be around 80% of women 40 to 65 years of age, with 55% having moderate to severe VMS.3,4 VMS can have a disruptive impact on women's daily activities and overall quality of life.1 About Fezolinetant Fezolinetant is an investigational oral, nonhormonal therapy in clinical development for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Fezolinetant works by blocking neurokinin B (NKB) binding on the kisspeptin/neurokinin/dynorphin (KNDy) neuron to moderate neuronal activity in the thermoregulatory center of the brain (the hypothalamus) to reduce the frequency and severity of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause.5,6,7 The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. There is no guarantee the agent will receive regulatory approval or become commercially available for the uses being investigated. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Standigm names Carl Foster chief business officer to expand strategic partnerships for AI drug discovery

Standigm | August 19, 2022

Standigm Inc. the leading workflow artificial intelligence (AI) drug discovery company, announced the appointment of Chief Business Officer Carl Foster. Based in our U.S. office, Foster will be responsible for expanding strategic partnerships for novel drug target discoveries and first-in-class lead candidate identifications. "Carl has established a reputation for increasing company value. He has significant experience building and growing biotech companies, like Standigm, through creative deal-making. We're confident Carl can help us meet our aggressive goals." Jinhan Kim, CEO of Standigm Foster spent over 30 years working for drug and platform technology companies in various areas including genomics, proteomics and antibodies. Throughout his career, he has built a strong track record of business planning, establishing strategic relationships and financial modeling. Foster began his career with Merck and Co., Inc. where he had spent nine years in business development, marketing, and sales. Most recently, he was executive vice president, business development for Cempra Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he was CEO of Jurilab, a European-based genomics company. Foster has also held vice president-level positions at Nanogen, King Pharmaceuticals, Oxford GlycoSciences and Praecis Pharmaceuticals. In addition, he was general manager of Intracel BV, a Netherlands-based immunology company and managing director of Ferghana Partners, a New York-based investment banking group. Foster holds an MBA in marketing and an M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Kansas. "Our goal is to shorten the drug discovery process, reduce costs and increase the probability of success by combining the Standigm AI platform with disease-specific data from our strategic partners," said Foster. "I believe combining AI with drug discovery will result in major advances in how we understand diseases and create solutions. Standigm's first-class AI platform is backed by a strong team of biologists, chemists and AI engineers who have collectively created a tremendous opportunity for me. I look forward to helping them build a novel and industry-leading company." About Standigm Standigm is a workflow AI-driven drug discovery company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea and subsidiarized in Cambridge, U.K. and Cambridge, MA. Standigm has proprietary AI platforms encompassing novel target identification to compound design, to generate commercially valuable drug pipelines. Founded in 2015, Standigm has established an early-stage drug discovery workflow AI to generate multiple First-in-Class compounds within average seven months. Pursuing full-stack, AI-driven industrializing drug discovery, Standigm has achieved the automation of molecular design workflow, and the automation effort has been expanding to the whole drug discovery process based on Standigm AI platforms, including Standigm ASK™ for novel target discovery, Standigm BEST™ for novel compound generation and Standigm Insight ™ for novel indication.

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Spotlight

Specialty pharmaceuticals are among the hottest products in U.S. healthcare today. They're attracting lots of attention in the media and the marketplace because they promise to effectively manage a variety of expensive chronic-care diseases and conditions.

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