What happened

Shares of BioXCel Therapeutics (BTAI -2.84%) rose by as much as 19.1% this week, and as of Thursday afternoon, were still up 17% for the week, according to data from S&P Global Intelligence. The biotech stock closed last Friday at $17.02 a share and opened Monday at $17.15. Its shares hit a high of $20.27 early Thursday afternoon. It was the second strong week in a row for the company's shares.

So what

Two analysts recently upgraded their views on the stock. On Thursday, Mizuho's Graig Suvannavejh raised his price target on BioXCel from $18 to $24 while maintaining a buy rating. Goldman Sachs analyst Corinne Jenkins upgraded her rating for the stock from sell to neutral on Dec. 1. The moves were likely based on expected sales gains for the company's lead product, Igalmi (dexmedetomidine), a treatment for agitation in schizophrenia or bipolar patients. The drug, administered in the form of a sublingual film, was just launched four months ago after the Food and Drug Administration approved it in April. The company said it expected to have a 70-person sales force this month to promote the therapy. Its sales in the first quarter since it was launched were just $137,000, but management sees plenty of room for growth.

The drug is also in clinical trials to determine its efficacy and safety in treating agitation with Alzheimer's disease and as an additional treatment for major depressive disorder. The company sees a big target group of patients for Igalmi: There are as many as 139 million agitation episodes annually in the U.S. connected with mental diseases.

Now what

Igalmi is BioXCel's first marketed product. The biotech company lost $41.8 million in the third quarter and has $232.3 million in cash and cash equivalents on the books. It's going to be spending more as it ramps up marketing for the drug. But long-term investors know that the payoff for BioXCel (if it comes) will be somewhat down the road as it adds more approved indications for Igalmi. Because of that, there's plenty of risk with this stock, though not as much as there is for clinical-stage biotech companies.