Questcor Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:QCOR), to no one’s surprise, remains volatile. Notably, the stock hit an intraday low of $17.60 on October 5th, and closed Thursday 19.5% higher than that level. The recent strength has been driven by 2 key fundamental factors; 1) The company noting in its last prescription trend update for H.P. Acthar Gel (Acthar) that “Patients with serious, difficult-to-treat medical conditions continue to have access to Acthar through commercial insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs,” and; 2) Clinical trial abstracts posted ahead of next month’s American Society of Nephrology (ASN) meeting. These clinical data significantly support Acthar use in treating patients with nephrotic syndrome (NS), perhaps the most valuable indication for the product.
The NS indication is a very important part of the Acthar story for three primary reasons. First, it is the fastest growing indication for the product. Based on the company’s just-released prescription trend data (for September), total prescriptions for Acthar were up 69.5% year over year, but within that number, prescriptions for Nephrotic Syndrome grew nearly 600% year over year, as this indication has taken off fast. Second, the NS indication requires average patients to be treated with approximately 7 vials, vs. 2 vials for multiple sclerosis (MS) flares and 4 for infantile spasms (IS). As a result, the value for each treatment course in NS is roughly $200K (6 months of therapy), substantially higher than treatment for MS and IS, the two other leading indications. Third, there are no approved therapies for patients with NS, making this a true unmet medical need. (more…)