Despite all the political rhetoric over drug prices in the United States, biotech stocks, on balance, have still had a respectable year. The closely watched iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF is presently up by over 6% for the year, and brighter days should be close at hand with the ongoing innovation bonanza showing no signs of cooling off. 

Which biotech stocks should investors have on their radars right now? The rare-disease specialists BioMarin Pharmaceutical (BMRN -0.15%) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX -0.24%) are both poised to produce market-beating returns in the coming decade. Here's what you need to know about these top biotech growth stocks.  

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The case for BioMarin

Wall Street's consensus 12-month price target on BioMarin suggests that this biotech stock could appreciate by a whopping 75% from current levels. That's a bold outlook for a mid-cap stock to be sure, but BioMarin arguably warrants such a glowing forecast. 

What's on tap for this orphan drug kind? BioMarin has two game-changing catalysts on the calendar. First up, the drugmaker is expected to submit regulatory filings in the U.S. and EU for its severe hemophilia A treatment valoctocogene roxaparvovec before the end of 2019. EvaluatePharma has the drug's sales topping $1.2 billion by 2024. That's a healthy sum for a company on track to generate a total of $1.94 billion in sales in 2020.

Next up, BioMarin plans on unveiling the top-line data from its pivotal trial for the dwarfism drug candidate, vosoritide, before year's end. If this readout hits the mark, vosoritide might be on the market as soon as the third quarter of 2020. Taken together, these two drug candidates have the potential to light a roaring fire underneath the biotech's shares over the next 18 months.

What's the key takeaway? BioMarin's shares might be trading as low as three times its 2024 sales. That's a dirt cheap valuation for an orphan drugmaker. The catch is that the market clearly isn't convinced that both of these experimental drugs will become commercial-stage products -- at least not anytime soon. The market's dour take is evident based on BioMarins' rock-bottom sales multiple, as well as the downright dreadful performance of its shares over the past five years. 

The case for Vertex

Vertex's virtual monopoly in cystic fibrosis (CF) is the sole reason the biotech's shares have risen by a staggering 400% over the past 10 years, and currently sport one of richest valuations in all of biotech at over 28 times forward-looking earnings. 

Despite these jaw-dropping metrics, though, Wall Street seems convinced that Vertex's stock has even more room to run. The consensus 12-month price target on the biotech's shares, after all, implies another 22.7% jump from current levels. 

Why is Wall Street so upbeat about Vertex's stock? The core reason is the biotech's triple combination CF therapy that's presently under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

The brief rundown is that this experimental therapy could greatly expand Vertex's addressable market in CF. EvaluatePharma, as a result, has this triplet therapy pegged as the single most valuable pipeline candidate right now. Keeping with this theme, some analysts even think it might even go on to become the best-selling medication in the entire industry in the latter half of the next decade.  

So, despite Vertex's monstrous run over the last 10 years and resulting top-shelf valuation, growth-oriented investors may still want to consider picking up some shares soon.