Acorda Presents Encouraging Data

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Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR) recently announced that data from preclinical studies evaluating glial growth factor 2 (GGF2) showed promising recovery of sensorimotor function in a preclinical model of stroke. The dose ranging studies evaluated various treatment regimes with different frequency of administration. The data was presented at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference.

GGF2 is being evaluated for various indications including heart failure and peripheral nerve injury. The company completed a phase I study evaluating GGF2 in heart failure patients in late 2012. GGF2 is undergoing preclinical studies for peripheral nerve injury.

We are pleased with the company’s efforts to develop its pipeline. However, most of the candidates are in early stages of development. Consequently they are quite a few years away from entering the market, if at all. We are also concerned about the Acorda’s dependence on Ampyra for growth.

In Jan 2013, Acorda announced that Ampyra revenues (unaudited) were approximately $73 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and $266 million in 2012. The company expects Ampyra revenues in the range of $285 million – $315 million in 2013.

While we are encouraged by the improvement in Ampyra’s performance and the 2013 Ampyra guidance, it remains to be seen whether the trend can be sustained. We note that Ampyra sales were below expectations in the first two quarters of 2012.

Acorda carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) in the short run. Pharma stocks that currently look attractive include companies like Sanofi (SNY), Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) and Bayer (BAYRY). All the three companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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