Shares of Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR) rose over 30% today after the company's lawyers made oral arguments in front of a panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit late Thursday. The appeal was made in response to an earlier decision by a U.S. District Court to invalidate four of the company's patents for its multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra, which is the top revenue generator for the business and is expected to deliver at least $330 million in sales in 2018. That's down from $493 million in 2016.
The timing is important. Acorda Therapeutics has one remaining patent on Ampyra, but it expires in July. That means the Federal Circuit decision on the appeal could be the difference between generic versions of the drug hitting the market this summer or sometime much later, perhaps as late as 2027.
As of 11:49 a.m. EDT, the stock had settled to a 22% gain.
The company didn't issue a press release or SEC filing because a decision on the appeal is still pending, but the higher-than-usual trading volume today indicates bullishness by an institutional investor or two about what was said during the arguments. Investors can listen to audio of the oral arguments in Acorda Therapeutics Inc. v. Roxane Laboratories Inc. that were made in front of the panel yesterday, although it may be difficult to draw conclusions one way or the other.
According to FiercePharma, Acorda CEO Ron Cohen tried to quell angst among the company's sales representatives by stating that even if Ampyra loses intellectual property protections, the plan is to transfer everyone to accounts selling Parkinson's disease drug Inbrija. That's either a bullish comment on the drug's prospects, since it's currently awaiting a decision on marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration, or exactly what investors would expect the CEO to say.
There's some degree of uncertainty surrounding Acorda Therapeutics right now. The month of June promises to be a volatile one for investors, considering that the Federal Circuit will soon decide whether or not to grant the company's appeal (and restore the invalidated Ampyra patents) and that the only currently valid patent expires in July. Today's move may be a bit premature, however, so investors should probably remain on the sidelines until more certainty is provided.