'Fast Track' Nods Lift Cempra Inc, Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc

FDA nods are lifting drugmakers Cempra Inc (CEMP) and Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc (CRBP)

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Ahead of the Fed's highly anticipated meeting minutes, U.S. stocks are taking it on the chin today, taking cues from China. However, among the equities bucking the trend lower are two biotechs: Cempra Inc (NASDAQ:CEMP) and Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:CRBP). 

Both stocks are higher after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted "fast track" status -- which expedites a review for serious conditions with little to no treatments -- to their drugs: CEMP's solithromycin, to treat community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, and CRBP's Resunab, to treat scleroderma. 

CEMP was last seen 4.9% higher at $38.58, bringing its year-to-date lead to 64.3%. Since notching an all-time peak of $46.99 late last month, the shares pulled back to test support at their 120-day moving average, which provided a springboard for CEMP in June. Not surprisingly, most analysts are already in the bulls' corner, with nine out of 10 offering up "strong buy" opinions, and the average 12-month price target in uncharted territory at $48.91.

CRBP is the real star of the show today, on a percentage basis. The stock more than doubled out of the gate, hitting an intraday high of $4.22, but has since pared its lead to a respectable 66% to sit at $3.08. The equity is now in the black on a year-to-date basis, after exploring record-low territory just last week.

Elsewhere, the FDA has been busy, with the approval of "female Viagra" making major headlines today. The nod has given hope to Sprout Pharmaceuticals rivals Palatin Technologies, Inc. (NYSEMKT:PTN) and Apricus Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ:APRI), which are up about 8% apiece to trade in the low single digits.

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