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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Biogen, Teva Pharmaceutical, Pfizer, Novartis and U.S. Bancorp

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – May 29, 2012 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Biogen Idec (BIIB), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (TEVA), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Novartis (NVS) and U.S. Bancorp (USB).

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Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Biogen Tysabri Label Update


Biogen Idec (BIIB) recently announced that Health Canada has approved a change in the label of its multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, Tysabri. The new label of the drug indicates anti-JC virus (:JCV) antibody status as a risk factor for developing a rare, serious brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Infection by the JC virus leads to the development of PML.


This is the third risk factor identified by Biogen for MS patients on treatment with Tysabri. It helps assess the benefit-risk profile of the drug, ensuring that physicians and patients make more informed choices in treating a debilitating disease like MS. Patients who are anti-JCV antibody positive, have received prior immunosuppressant therapy and have been treated with Tysabri for more than two years are most likely to develop PML.


Prior to the Canadian approval for the label update the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission had approved anti-JCV antibody status as a means of identifying patients at a higher risk of contracting PML. Biogen said that 59,000 anti-JCV antibody tests were conducted through the third quarter of 2011.


Tysabri recorded global sales of $1.5 billion in 2011. Tysabri is approved in more than 65 countries and faces stiff competition from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited’s (TEVA) Copaxone, Pfizer Inc. (PFE)/Serono’s Rebif and Novartis’ (NVS) Extavia. Tysabri is facing additional competition in the form of Novartis’ Gilenya, which was launched in early Oct 2010.


Our Take


The updated label should help increase awareness about the antibody status of both existing as well as prospective patients.

With the updated label, Biogen should be in a position to approach neurologists and provide the MS community with more confidence when considering treatment options.

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Biogen in the long run. Biogen carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run.



USB Launches Android Credit Card


U.S. Bancorp (USB) unveiled an android-compatible credit card application, REI Visa app, for the consumers of Recreational Equipment, Inc.The application is similar to the one launched by US Bancorp for iPhones back in October. U.S. Bank plans to continue rolling out this application to its co-branded partners throughout 2012.


The new application enables the consumers to apply for and receive on-the-spot credit for making purchases. This sort of application will enhance consumers’ convenience and provide them with spontaneous buying power.


This newly designed virtual credit card will contain all information required to be furnished at the time of making purchases. Moreover, it will enable access to account management tools such as balance viewing, latest transactions as well as making payments, at any given point of time. Further, it will provide an access to a link of REI‘s website for online shopping.


US Bancorp was amongst the first to introduce mobile application for credit cards. The initial applications were designed exclusively to support iPhones. This revolutionary application will expand the bank’s exposure in the mobile banking arena.


Besides this virtual credit card application for mobile phones, the bank has also launched an iPad banking application built on the Mobiliti Enterprise, a mobile banking and payments platform from Fiserv, to cater to the growing needs of tablet users.


Further, the bank designed and is upgrading an application, which is compatible to iPhones, known as Find US+. The application provides a street view of the bank’s branches and ATM’s employing the mobile device’s camera


From the view point of Recreational, the virtual credit card offers opportunities to take the consumer relationship to a whole new level by providing easy access to credit facilities.


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