MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) hasn't exactly given investors a whole lot to get excited about in recent years. That could be changing, though. Since May, MannKind stock has soared more than 130% and now stands as one of the hottest biotech stocks on the market.
Michael Castagna, MannKind's CEO, spoke on Monday morning at the Cantor Fitzgerald Global Healthcare Conference. He mentioned five numbers in his presentation that should get MannKind investors even more excited.
Castagna said that MannKind's total prescriptions for inhaled insulin Afrezza topped 87,000 cartridges last week. This number is important for a couple of reasons. First, it's an all-time record. Second, it's higher than MannKind's former partner Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) ever achieved.
Tiny MannKind is outperforming a giant drugmaker when it comes to selling Afrezza. And it's doing so more cost-effectively than Sanofi, according to Castagna. That should be encouraging to investors.
What's even more encouraging is how quickly MannKind has been able to achieve this feat. It was only a few months ago that MannKind beefed up its internal sales force. Those efforts clearly appear to have paid off.
There are only four days remaining before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to render its decision on a potential label change for Afrezza. In his comments during MannKind's second-quarter earnings call, Castagna ranked this potential label change as one of the top keys for the company's success.
Currently, the label for Afrezza states that the drug "is a rapid-acting inhaled insulin." MannKind wants to be able to claim that Afrezza starts working faster than other drugs. A positive decision by the FDA could be very important to the company because it would allow MannKind's sales efforts to legally position Afrezza as superior to other treatments.
Castagna noted at the Cantor Fitzgerald conference that 70% of people in the U.S. who are currently on insulin are not achieving the goal of less than 7% A1C. (A1C measures an individual's blood glucose levels.) In addition, Castagna cited a recent survey of diabetic patients that found that less than one in three felt "very successful" in managing aspects of the disease.
It's clear that there is a significant unmet need in treating diabetes. MannKind believes that Afrezza is the answer for many of these patients who aren't achieving their goals.
Despite this large population of diabetic patients who could benefit from a more effective treatment, over 90% of these individuals have never heard of Afrezza, according to Castagna. In a real sense, this is good news because it shows that MannKind has an opportunity to boost sales if it can reach these patients.
To that end, Castagna said that MannKind is increasing its social media presence. In addition, he mentioned that the company is expanding its TV advertising for Afrezza. MannKind debuted its first-ever TV commercial for the product on the cable show Reversed. The show features celebrity chef Charles Mattocks and focuses on educating participants and the audience about managing diabetes. Castagna said that Mattocks' program was getting picked up by another media outlet and would reach an audience of around 16 million people.
Castagna threw out another number in his comments at the Cantor Fitzgerald conference that underscores the opportunities for MannKind's Technosphere drug-delivery platform. He noted that the company has evaluated 45 programs over the last decade with Technosphere and that 43 of them worked effectively with the inhaled-delivery approach.
Why is this important? In June, MannKind announced that it had engaged Locust Walk to find strategic partners and investors for its non-insulin pipeline candidates that use Technosphere. There could be significant opportunities for use of the drug-delivery platform for currently approved drugs that are delivered to the lung.
One not-so-exciting number
These five numbers represent real potential for MannKind -- and they could excite investors about that potential. However, there is one not-so-exciting number that can't be overlooked: $43.4 million. That's how much MannKind reported in cash and cash equivalents at the end of June.
The company could burn through more than half that amount in the third quarter alone. While MannKind should be able to raise the needed additional cash through a stock offering, that means dilution for existing shares. Dilution could zap any short-term excitement about MannKind, despite some reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the future.