Shares of AcelRx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACRX) were sinking by 11.3% as of 10:47 a.m. EST on Friday. The specialty pharmaceutical company announced its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results after the market closed on Thursday.
AcelRx reported a net loss of $12.6 million, or $0.18 per share, for the quarter. That was actually better than what analysts expected. The company also indicated that the launch of acute-pain drug Dsuvia was going well. However, investors appeared to be less than thrilled that AcelRx didn't provide more details about its growth prospects.
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The reality is that AcelRx's Q4 numbers didn't matter much. What really matters is what has happened and will happen for the company after its February launch of Dsuvia.
AcelRx didn't provide a lot of information about the launch so far. CEO Vince Angotti said that the company was "pleased with the initial response by healthcare professionals." Other than that, though, pretty much all we know is that AcelRx has 15 hospital account managers in the field and that the company has contracts in place with group purchasing organizations (GPOs) that cover around 80% of hospital customers in the initial launch markets for Dsuvia.
The company also stated that it plans to accelerate the hiring of 25 additional hospital account managers, hoping to fill those positions by Q3 instead of Q4. In addition, Angotti said in AcelRx's conference call that expects that Dsuvia will be included on 125 formularies by the end of 2019 instead of the 100 formularies mentioned during the company's investor presentation in December.
However, anyone hoping that the Department of Defense (DoD) would quickly drive a tremendous volume of sales was probably disappointed. Angotti noted that different groups within each branch of the military are separately reviewing their protocols before buying Dsuvia.
The important thing to keep in mind is that it's been only a month since Dsuvia was launched. There's a long way to go before we know if the pain drug will reach the sales levels that many investors expect.
Probably the best thing to do now is to simply wait and see how AcelRx executes on its strategy. In the meantime, the stock will likely continue to be volatile -- as it has been in recent months.
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