ISIS Takes Heart From A Promising Drug

Beating Faster
ISIS Pharmaceuticals (ISIS ) is a name to watch in the lucrative arena of cholesterol reduction. On Nov. 13 its stock soared 20%, to 12.43, after release of favorable data on a new cholesterol drug at the American Heart Assn. meeting in Chicago. The stock is now at 10.84. The drug cut by 62% the levels of "bad" cholesterol in patients who took it for three months. "The robustness of the data is encouraging," says Mark Monane of investment firm Needham, who rated ISIS a "buy" six months before the results were released. He notes that the drug, which is taken by injection, "lowers cholesterol in a mechanism distinct from statins." Its safety profile, he adds, both as a single agent and in combination with statins, shows that the drug is "well tolerated," with only mild injection-site reactions. The data indicate that the drug warrants continued development as a powerful new addition to therapies for cutting cholesterol. The biggest drug for cholesterol is Pfizer's (PFE ) Lipitor, with annual sales of $14 billion. Aaron Reames of A.G. Edwards (AGE ), who also rates ISIS a "buy," expects the breakthrough to continue to generate "solid clinical data throughout 2007."

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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