There's something really great about platform drugmakers. The fact that they can effortlessly roll out five or six drugs using the same technology -- extending patents in the process -- just makes me want to smile. Let's take a look at a few of the platform drugmakers that have the possibility of becoming multibaggers if their technologies catch fire.
Smaller is better
Abraxane, the company's one marketed drug based on the nab technology, has been competing well against the other taxanes on the market -- Bristol-Myers Squibb's
The company is also developing four other chemotherapy drugs based on the nab technology. Two clinical trials for nab-docetaxel have already begun, and clinical studies for nab-rapamycin are expected to begin later this year. The other two molecules are still in pre-clinical trials, but could be in the clinic as early as 2008.
Investors who would like to purchase Abraxis just for its platform technology would be better off waiting until later in the year. The company is set to spin off its generic drug business, so waiting will let you buy into a pure play in platform technology.
Lasting pain relief
Drug-delivery specialist DURECT
The cool thing about the technology is that it can be formulated to deliver drugs over periods as short as a day or as long as three months. While the company has limited itself to using its technology with pain relief drugs, the technology could be used with other drugs -- antibiotics for instance -- that need to be delivered over long periods of time. Look for DURECT to set up additional partnerships as its technology is proven successful in current late-stage clinical trials.
A molecular machete
The efficacy of a lot of drugs, especially large protein molecules like monoclonal antibodies, is low because they can't get inside the cell to do their job. Halozyme Therapeutics
Halozyme has run an initial proof of concept clinical trial with a representative large protein molecule, but so far it has only been able to convince Roche to use the technology to further develop drugs. The technology seems a little speculative at this point -- Roche was only willing to pay $20 million up front for the rights -- so this platform is probably the least developed of the bunch.
Two for the price of one
Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick Flamel Technologies
Flamel has developed one extended release drug from its platform, GlaxoSmithKline's
I'd classify all of these companies' platforms as still in the developmental stage, since none of them has developed even two drugs using their platforms. They could end up being one-hit wonders, or their platforms could develop multiple drugs over the coming years. Only time will tell which way they'll go, but they're all certainly worth keeping your eye on.
Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Glaxo is a selection of the Income Investor newsletter. The Fool's disclosure policy is too unique to have been built from a platform technology.