Global biopharma Incyte (INCY) has announced plans to initiate a Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate cancer drug Jakafi in patients with COVID-19 associated cytokine storm. This is a severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly.
The collaborative study will be sponsored by Incyte in the United States and Novartis (NVS) outside of the United States.
Additionally, given the urgent nature of the pandemic, Incyte intends to initiate a separate open-label emergency Expanded Access Program (EAP) in the US. This will allow eligible patients with severe COVID-19 associated cytokine storm to receive the drug while it is still being investigated.
“We recognize the significant and urgent medical need of patients with severe COVID-19 infection, and we are working with the FDA in an effort to rapidly advance the RUXCOVID and EAP studies,” said Steven Stein, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Incyte.
Mizuho Securities analyst Mara Goldstein sees potential for the study, writing: “Given earlier exploratory work in CRS [cytokine storm], this makes sense, and could expand the use for JAKAFI more broadly in CRS, which is ultimately a modest positive for the franchise and may, in our view, create some additional demand for the drug, although we have not included this in our 2020 outlook.”
However, the analyst maintains a hold rating and $79 price target on the shares based on her view that meaningful catalysts for the shares are unlikely until 2021.
Overall, INCY boasts a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating with a $90 average analyst price target. As shares are currently trading down 10% year-to-date, the price target indicates upside potential of just over 15%. (See INCY’s stock analysis on TipRanks)
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