Seven pharmaceutical stocks that stand to win beyond the Covid-19 chase

InvestorPlace | July 15, 2020

It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees in markets like this. Especially when it comes to pharmaceutical stocks. What I mean is that, in some sectors, there are great stocks that get overlooked because a few of them are working on event-driven issues, while others are creating long-term solutions to major trends.

This is especially true in the pharmaceutical and biotech spaces right now. Maybe it’s because the Kentucky Derby was postponed, but people are betting on pharmas discovering a vaccine to Covid-19 like it’s the only horse race out there. The fact is, there’s a whole racing season and betting on one horse in one race isn’t successful investing. And neither is betting on pharmaceutical stocks for one medicine.

That’s where my grading system comes in.

Overall, there are plenty of massively successful drugs. However, they’re blockbusters because they can be used for a variety ailments. Or, the top companies have a strong pipeline of drugs that address issues that are important to a large number of people.

Spotlight

As is the case with many industries, the use of technology has replaced in-person interaction within the medical field. While the US deploys almost 80,000 pharmaceutical Medical Representatives (MRs),that number has decreased 12% since last year. Call centers, tablets, and electronic, web-based product detailing are meeting the needs of these now-eliminated positions. In the US, all top 20 pharma companies use e-detailing. What impact will that have on the future of drug detailing?


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PHARMACY MARKET, PHARMA TECH

GoodRx Expands Pharmacy Services Platform With $150M vitaCare Acquisition

GoodRx | October 21, 2022

To circumvent overpriced prescription drugs and grow its robust pharmacy services platform, GoodRx finalized its vitaCare acquisition. Based on a transaction that started in the first quarter of 2022, GoodRx agreed to secure vitaCare for $150 million in cash. Based on vitaCare’s financial performance through 2023, an additional $7 million consideration is also possible. A report cited by Globe Newswire showed that the global pharmacy market size has a forecasted value of $1,627.74 billion by 2030. Pharmaceutical platforms, with accessible clinical programs and digital adoptions, have a positive impact on today’s healthcare system, with vitaCare as one of the promising brands. vitaCare, a healthcare service platform, offers cost-effective solutions to patients. More precisely, the platform helps individuals navigate insurance coverage and its optimized benefits to attain lower-priced medications. Rising investments in pharmacy services have sparked interest in vitaCare, including that of GoodRx. The acquisition of vitaCare is in line with GoodRx’s mission, though. Co-CEO Doug Hirsch states that the company seeks to relieve the financial burden that comes with securing medication. Pharma manufacturers have constantly observed barriers to proper patient care, especially for affordable medicine and complicated reimbursement processes. With vitaCare at the helm, new tools are utilized to ensure more patients are linked to relevant savings programs and transparent pricing information. Hirsch hopes that the acquisition will facilitate a smoother brand prescription process overall. Profit-wise, GoodRx predicts the deal will contribute under 1% of its total revenue in 2022, though there is no substantial long-term discern. This acquisition is the latest in GoodRx’s commitment to delivering consumer-focused healthcare services. The company has a history of connecting individuals to accessible, research-based health information. One of the most notable ones is its partnership with Wheel in 2021, which generated better outcomes for patient care. Telemedicine software provider Wheel offers flexible clinical services to a broad patient base. Wheel’s platform equips clinics with the capability of synchronous and asynchronous consults. It utilizes network virtualization to create a seamless experience for healthcare providers and patients. Our post ‘Network Virtualization: The Future of Businesses and Networks’ previously discussed how virtualization empowers a software’s scalability — and this certainly manifests in Wheel’s platform. Providers can choose from a range of services that enhance patient care. One of the services is ePrescription medications, which remotely administers prescriptions. Following the integration of GoodRx’s technology into Wheel’s platform, health providers and patients alike can meet reduced costs of care. As it stands, GoodRx’s coupon price API operates with over 200 billion pricing data points daily. Consumers use these to identify lower-priced medications. With the integration, Wheel-mobilized clinics can offer their patients a GoodRx coupon. GoodRx can also adapt its services to remote healthcare activities through the partnership. After all, GoodRx is essentially a marketplace. Ultimately, GoodRx champions solutions that provide consumers with affordable healthcare access and medication. With vitaCare among its ranks today, the company can focus on promoting better patient adherence to treatment plans.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

AustinPx Names Elizabeth Hickman Chief Business Officer

AustinPx | September 28, 2022

AustinPx, Pharmaceutics and Manufacturing, a contract development and manufacturing organization announced the appointment of Elizabeth Hickman as Chief Business Officer. In this role, Ms. Hickman will be responsible for the Company’s CDMO business operations and strategy, including building capabilities and a team to deliver high-value solutions for pharmaceutical customers. Ms. Hickman is an accomplished business leader with over 15 years of experience with small and multi-billion-dollar CDMOs. Over her career, she has held business development and market strategy positions of increasing responsibility, most recently at West Pharmaceutical Services as Senior Director of Strategic Marketing, Services and Solutions where she was responsible for market expansion of the company’s contract development, testing and manufacturing services. Prior to joining West, Ms. Hickman led sales and marketing at Pharmatek Laboratories, where she helped grow the company’s services and revenues resulting in its successful acquisition by Catalent Pharma Solutions. Following Pharmatek’s acquisition, she continued to excel in market strategy and business development leadership roles with Catalent’s oral drug development business unit. Ms. Hickman has a BA in Microbiology from the University of Texas, Austin and an MBA from San Diego State University. "Elizabeth brings a sharp skillset and a wealth of CDMO experience to AustinPx," said Tim Scott, President and CEO for AustinPx. "She has a strong history of growing CDMOs as both a strategist and a team-builder. Elizabeth is unique in her ability to foster and create a culture that excels at providing client-centric services, and that is why she is such a tremendous asset for AustinPx. We are very fortunate to have her." As CBO at AustinPx, Ms. Hickman will focus on the strategic buildout of agile, best in class operations, systems, and teams. She will be responsible for all market strategy and communications, business development, project management, systems optimization, and data-driven processes that drive growth. "I am excited to be a part of AustinPx and join its impressive team of formulation and manufacturing scientists and operations staff. They are a true scientific powerhouse for our clients. My goal is to build on the Company’s strong foundation to develop a client-centric CDMO that consistently delivers exceptional service from initial engagement to product shipment. Ultimately, my passion is for the patients of our clients – if we can help get their drug candidates to the clinic faster, with better formulations and dosage forms, we can in turn impact more patients around the world." Elizabeth Hickman About AustinPx AustinPx, Pharmaceutics and Manufacturing is a contract development and manufacturing organization providing analytical and formulation development services and cGMP manufacturing for small molecule drugs. We specialize in phase-appropriate development strategies, speed to clinic and market strategies, and bioavailability enhancement of poorly soluble molecules - including our next generation amorphous dispersion platform, KinetiSol® Technology.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

SmartSkin Partners With PDA to Bring New Technology to Aseptic Processing

SmartSkin Technologies and PDA | October 06, 2022

SmartSkin Technologies and Parenteral Drug Association, Inc. announced a partnership to integrate SmartSkin’s data collection technologies with PDA’s aseptic processing and visual inspection training. SmartSkin is recognized by leading pharmaceutical brands as an innovator. Its technology helps the industry adapt faster and improve production quality by providing timely data from the container’s perspective inside the production process — from the washer to warehousing. This previously unavailable information enables data-driven decisions, improving efficiency, lowering costs, and reducing waste. Built on a reputation of scientifically reliable and compliant industry best practices, PDA's hands-on aseptic processing and visual inspection training courses provide new and experienced pharmaceutical professionals with practical information and implementable solutions related to these critical manufacturing operations. “PDA’s training curriculum is widely acknowledged as the gold standard for the pharmaceutical industry. We have been working closely with them for the past several months and are thrilled to have our technology included as part of their training. We have been working hard to understand all aspects of sterile products, aseptic processing, and how to improve quality in pharmaceutical manufacturing. PDA training will ensure industry professionals understand what is now possible.” SmartSkin CEO, Evan Justason “We are always looking to integrate new technologies into our training courses to provide meaningful hands-on experience to our attendees. Smartskin’s technology to protect the integrity of containers across the fill-finish process will enhance the aseptic processing and visual inspection training courses, making them even more unique and valuable,” said PDA VP of Education, David Talmage. SmartSkin discussed manufacturing and quality assurance issues at the 2022 PDA/FDA Joint Regulatory Conference in Washington earlier this month and showcased its latest product innovations to PDA and FDA members. SmartSkin will also be attending the upcoming PDA Universe of Pre-Filled Syringes and Injection Devices show in Palm Springs, CA, October 18-19. About PDA The Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) is the leading global provider of science, technology, and regulatory information. The PDA creates awareness and understanding of important issues facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical community and delivers high-quality, relevant education to the industry. Since its founding in 1946 as a nonprofit organization, PDA has been committed to developing scientifically sound, practical technical information and expertise to advance pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical manufacturing science and regulation, so members can better serve patients. About SmartSkin Technologies SmartSkin Technologies, Inc. is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. The company’s patented Quantifeel™ solutions fuse innovative sensors, deep analytics and artificial intelligence to provide global manufacturers with actionable data on the forces their containers experience during the filling and packaging process. By identifying previously undetectable adverse or abnormal operating conditions, workers are able to better control the process, preventing product defects and costly downtime. SmartSkin’s technology is in use around the world and has earned a reputation as a world leader in IIoT productivity solutions across multiple industries. SmartSkin was honored with the “Best Manufacturing Innovation” at the 2020 PharmaPack Awards in Paris.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Iterative Scopes Receives FDA Clearance for AI-Assisted Polyp Detection Device SKOUT™

Iterative Scopes | September 23, 2022

Iterative Scopes, a pioneer in precision medicine technologies for gastroenterology, and Provation, the premier software and SaaS provider of clinical productivity and workflow automation solutions, announced that SKOUT™ has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adults undergoing colorectal cancer screening or surveillance. SKOUT, a real-time computer-aided polyp detection device developed by Iterative Scopes, uses advanced computer vision technology designed to recognize suspicious tissue and provide real-time feedback to gastroenterologists. The device was evaluated in the largest U.S.-based multicenter clinical study for a computer aided polyp detection (CADe) device completed to date, which determined that SKOUT significantly improved overall adenoma detection in screening and surveillance colonoscopy compared to standard colonoscopy.1 In March 2021, Provation and Iterative Scopes entered a partnership focused on delivering artificial intelligence-based solutions to healthcare providers and researchers. Provation is a market leader in gastrointestinal (GI) documentation, with more than 3,500 customer facilities including 80% of the top academic and large health systems, and the company will act as an exclusive distributor of SKOUT to help broaden the technology’s reach among the country’s top GI-focused organizations. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe,2 3 due in part to the high volumes of adenomas – approximately 26%4 – that endoscopists miss when conducting a colonoscopy. In its registration trial, SKOUT was found to improve adenoma detection, as measured by adenomas per colonoscopy (APC). Furthermore, increased detection was not limited to diminutive polyps. Higher APC rates have been shown to lead to improved patient outcomes; a recent study showed that the incidence of colorectal cancer within three years of examination decreases with higher APC rates.5 “Even among the best endoscopists, there is room for improvement in adenoma detection, which can impact patient outcomes. We are enthusiastic about the fact that even gastroenterologists with an already high baseline rate of adenoma detection demonstrated an improvement with SKOUT. Now that SKOUT is FDA-cleared, clinicians will be able to better detect adenomas with more efficiency, and ultimately change the standard of gastrointestinal care.” Sloane Allebes Phillips, VP of Clinical Operations at Iterative Scopes SKOUT is indicated as a computer-aided detection tool to assist qualified and trained endoscopists in identifying potential colorectal polyps during colonoscopy examinations in adult patients undergoing colorectal cancer screening or surveillance. SKOUT demonstrated a 27% relative increase in the detection of adenomas per colonoscopy, with an average of one additional adenoma resected for every 4.5 patients examined. Importantly, in the proximal colon, SKOUT demonstrated a 44% relative increase in 5-9 mm polyp detection, and a 29% relative increase in 5-9 mm polyp detection overall.1 These results validate the need for technological advancements that can help improve colonoscopies, and SKOUT’s artificial intelligence capabilities position it to do so. “Knowing that patients can walk away from their appointment with the confidence that they received a high quality and detailed colonoscopy is what excites us most about SKOUT’s FDA clearance,” said Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, Robert M. and Mary H. Glickman Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and a primary investigator on the SKOUT registration study. “Confidence and peace-of-mind on behalf of providers and patients alike will allow clinicians to provide stronger recommendations and solutions for their patients.” “We are thrilled that our partner Iterative Scopes has received FDA clearance for their AI-Assisted Polyp Detection device, SKOUT. We have been very impressed with its study results and are eager to share our vision for integrating this technology into our solutions,” said Daniel Hamburger, CEO at Provation. “SKOUT is a true game-changer for the field of gastroenterology, and we can’t wait to start seeing its impact on patient care.” SKOUT’s intuitive user interface seamlessly integrates with existing clinical workflows and does not increase total procedure or withdrawal time.1 When a potential polyp is detected, the system calls attention to the polyp on the procedure monitor by drawing a blue bounding box around it and tracking the polyp as it moves on the screen. If a medical tool enters the frame, the bounding box automatically disappears to avoid obstructing the physician’s view during polyp removal. About Iterative Scopes Iterative Scopes is a pioneer in the application of artificial intelligence-based precision medicine for gastroenterology with the aim of helping to optimize clinical trials investigating treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The technology is also designed to potentially enhance colorectal cancer screenings. Its powerful, proprietary artificial intelligence and computer vision technologies have the potential to improve the accuracy and consistency of endoscopy readings. Iterative Scopes is initially applying these advances to impact polyp detection for colorectal cancer screenings and working to standardize disease severity characterization for inflammatory bowel disease. Longer term, the company plans to establish more meaningful endpoints for GI diseases, which may be better predictors of therapeutic response and disease outcomes. Spun out of MIT in 2017, the company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. About Provation Provation is a leading provider of healthcare software and SaaS solutions for clinical productivity, care coordination, quality reporting, and billing. Our purpose is to empower providers to deliver quality healthcare for all. Provation’s comprehensive portfolio spans the entire patient encounter, from pre-procedure through post-procedure, with solutions for physician and nursing documentation anesthesia documentation patient engagement, surgical care coordination, quality reporting, and billing capture order set and care plan management and EHR embedded clinical documentation. Provation has a loyal customer base, serving more than 5,000 hospitals, surgery centers, and medical offices, and 700 physician groups globally, including 19 of the top 20 U.S. hospitals. In 2021, Provation was acquired by Fortive Corporation, a Fortune 1000 company that builds essential technology and accelerates transformation in high-impact fields like workplace safety, engineering, and healthcare.

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Spotlight

As is the case with many industries, the use of technology has replaced in-person interaction within the medical field. While the US deploys almost 80,000 pharmaceutical Medical Representatives (MRs),that number has decreased 12% since last year. Call centers, tablets, and electronic, web-based product detailing are meeting the needs of these now-eliminated positions. In the US, all top 20 pharma companies use e-detailing. What impact will that have on the future of drug detailing?

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