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USB Piper Ups NPS Pharmaceuticals Target

USB Piper raised its price target on NPS Pharmaceuticals (NPSP), and maintains its strong buy rating.

Analyst Mark Schoenenbaum says Amgen, a licensee of NSP Pharmaceuticals, filed a new drug application to market Cinacalcet one month ahead of his expectation, and two months to three months ahead of the Street's expectation and the company's guidance.

He thinks Amgen may have applied for fast-track designation from the FDA. This would qualify Cinacalcet, a treatment for some hyperparathyroid conditions in chronic kidney disease patients, for a six-month priority review. He says if that's granted, Cinacalcet could be approved as early as March 2004. Under the terms of its license agreement with Amgen, NPS will receive a milestone payment of $6 million as a result of this regulatory filing.

Schoenenbaum rates NPS as strong buy, based on the value of its late-stage clinical development candidates Preos and Cinacalcet -- the key drivers for NPS in the near term. He raised his $33 price target to $36.

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