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Here's Why Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. Gained 32.2% in the First Half of 2018

Cory Renauer, The Motley Fool

What happened

Shares of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AUPH), a clinical-stage biotechnology company, gained 32.2% in the first half of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Investors anticipating success with the company's lead candidate, voclosporin, have been pushing up the stock.

So what 

There is an enormous unmet need for effective new lupus treatments, and it looks as if voclosporin could become an important option that generates $1 billion-plus annual sales. During the midstage Aura study, adding voclosporin to standard care produced complete remissions at more than twice the rate of standard care alone.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Aurinia's stock ticked up sharply this spring after management announced it would revive a dry-eye program for its lupus candidate. Voclosporin could probably become a $1 billion per year drug among the relatively small lupus community, but dry-eye affects millions. Investors hopeful a recently begun dry-eye trial with a voclosporin solution will produce successful results have given the stock some extra lift this year.

Now what

Lupus is a chronic disease that progresses slowly, so pivotal data for voclosporin won't be ready until next year. If you're worried about boredom, don't. Another dramatic price movement could be right around the corner.

Aurinia recently initiated a dry-eye study that will randomize around 90 patients into groups receiving voclosporin or Restasis from Allergan (NYSE: AGN). If voclosporin can best the market leader, this stock could soar further in the second half than it did in the first. Dosing has already begun, and patients will be evaluated after four weeks, so keep an eye open for the hotly anticipated results.

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Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.