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Emisphere Dances With Giants

Tiny biotech Emisphere Technologies (EMIS) has attracted Big Pharma to team up on its products still in clinical trials. On July 18, Roche Holding (RHHVF) inked a pact to use Emisphere's technology for oral formulations of Roche compounds. That's on top of its work with Emisphere's drugs for bone cancer. Emisphere is a pioneer in oral delivery of injectable drugs such as insulin. Novartis (NVS) is a partner on oral Calcitonin for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. And a partner on oral insulin, which is scheduled to go into Phase 3 trials late this year, will be named in the next few months. Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), Merck (MRK), and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) are candidates, say analysts. The oral Calcitonin and oral heparin are in Phase 3 trials and could be on the market by 2010, and oral insulin in 2011. "The potential for gain far outweighs any downside risks, and we reiterate our 'buy' rating," says Adnan Butt of ThinkEquity Partners. His 12-month target for the stock, now at 7.04, is 15. Emisphere joined the Russell 2000 in June. Andrew Forman of WR Hambrecht, which has done banking for the company, expects it to be in the black in 2010, mainly from oral heparin sales and royalties on other products, including oral insulin. He rates it a "buy."

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

By Gene G. Marcial

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