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Protalix Exploring Options

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Protalix BioTherapeutics, Inc. (PLX) recently confirmed that it has hired Citigroup, Inc. (C) to explore strategic options. Protalix, an Israel-based biopharmaceutical company, confirmed that Citigroup will help it review multiple product partnering, technology sharing and other strategic alternatives. The news had a positive effect on the company’s shares.

The confirmation came in the wake of multiple inquiries in addition to a related report appearing in the Israeli press. However, Protalix issued no assurance that it will undertake any such strategic alternative. The company declined to throw anymore light on the event at this moment.

We note that the company focuses on the developing and commercializing recombinant therapeutic proteins expressed through ProCellEx – its proprietary plant cell based expression system.

In May 2012, it gained US approval for taliglucerase alfa for injection, as an enzyme replacement therapy for the long-term treatment of adults suffering from type 1 Gaucher disease. Pharma major Pfizer Inc. (PFE) is responsible for marketing Taliglucerase alfa in the US under the brand name Elelyso.

We further note that Protalix has granted Pfizer an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize the drug. However, Protalix has retained such rights, pertaining to the drug, in Israel.

We believe that the association with a big player like Pfizer is a major positive for the company. Protalix /Pfizer are looking to get the drug approved in other markets as well.

Protalix currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PPHM) is an example of a biopharma stock that is more favorably placed. It carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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