What: Shares of Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRPT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, jumped by more than 15% as of 3:00 p.m. EST Wednesday after an analyst raised his price target and issued a bullish forecast for the company.
So what: Oppenheimer released a note today stating that the firm believes the FDA panel will issue a positive ruling on Sarepta's Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, drug etepliresen later this month, which they think will cause the share price to spike. The firm raised the company's price target up to $60 -- just shy of a triple from today's market price -- and gave the shares an 'outperform' rating.
Oppenheimer believes that the agency will end up giving etepliresen the green light since there are currently no approved treatment options available for patients with DMD. The thesis rests in part on the fact that ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACAD) drug Nuplazid also did not have perfect data but the FDA's advisory committee still recommended approving the drug in a 12 to two vote.
Now what: It's also worth noting that Sarepta has received a huge amount of support from the DMD community as a letter was recently posted to the website of the University of California's Los Angeles website that urged the FDA to approve eteplirsen. The letter was signed by 34 healthcare providers from around the world that specialize in DMD research who believe that the potential benefits of using etepliresen outweigh its downsides.
Oppenheimer may end up looking like it made a great call if everything works out for Sarepta, but recommending the stock ahead of the meeting is quite risky. I understand their confidence as ACADIA Pharmaceutical's drug didn't have anywhere near that kind of support from the medical community as Sarepta does and yet it still managed to come out of its FDA panel meeting looking good.
Still, it's hard to guess at what kind of response the FDA will have have for eteplirsen and if the news isn't good then Sarepta's shares could easily get crushed. For that reason I'm content to watch this story play out from the sidelines.