Contribute Try STAT+ Today

It can pay to be a copycat — for a time.

Consider Marinus Pharmaceuticals (MRNS), a little-known biotech that delivered the second-best stock performance in the sector last year. Why did Marinus enjoy an eightfold jump in its stock price in 2017? Because speculative investors viewed the company as a cheaper clone of high-flying Sage Therapeutics (SAGE).

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT+ is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • STAT+ Conversations
  • Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.
  • “Both [drugs] are analogs of a hormone that activates GABA neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.”
    One is indeed a synthetic analog (ganaxolone), the other is the endogenous neurosteroid allopregnanolone conjugated with Ligand’s captisol product for IV administration – known as ‘brexanolone’.
    “The therapeutic effect: Controlling seizures or improving mood or anxiety, without long-term side effects.”
    That may be the desired outcome for both drugs but it is grossly misleading to imply that the administration of allopregnanolone does not cause ‘long-term side effects’. The reason why ganaxolone and other synthetic analogs of allo were developed in the first place is to overcome the well known side-effects of long-term allo administration.
    Mr. Fontanini writes that Marinus’ PhII study in PPD will “address many open questions about its efficacy and bioavailability”. However, the study uses the IV version of the drug, yielding no insights into bioavailability whatsoever.
    Mr. Fontanini further asserts: “When Marinus does complete its ganaxolone postpartum study, investors will be able to compare the data to Sage’s very similar Phase 2 study.”
    The studies are by no stretch of the imagination “very similar”. One was a rather straightforward, small cohort study exploring two dose regimens, the other explores multiple regimens as well as an IV-to-oral switch. Overall, Mr. Fontanini appears to be strikingly ignorant about these clinical trials.
    An investor is cited as saying:
    “If you have a trial larger than Sage’s, and your whole investment thesis is that you’re a baby Sage, then your data should be at least in the same ballpark.”
    Are Marinus, with their long-standing orphan pediatric programs which go unmentioned in this article, the ones portraying themselves as a ‘baby Sage’ or would that be a projection of investor expectations?
    STAT – I expected better from you.

Comments are closed.