Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) Jumps as Iclusig Included in EMA Agenda

Joel Anderson  |

Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) saw its shares pop on Tuesday, adding almost 13.25 percent with a rapid climb that gained momentum throughout the morning, peaking at 11 am before declining sharply. However, even after retreating from early gains, shares remained up just under 6.5 percent by early afternoon.

Driving the gains appears to be news that Ariad’s drug Iclusig has been included on the agenda for the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The company's shares are up over 65 percent in the last month, representing another chapter in Ariad’s long three-month saga of boom and bust.

European Medicines Agency to Review Iclusig

Ariad’s shares opened the day at the same level they closed at on Monday, but they were quickly pushing higher as news of the EMA agenda started to percolate. It represents the first time the EMA, a London-based decentralized agency of the European Union responsible for the scientific evaluation of drugs for markets in Europe, has opted to release its agenda as the agency tries to move towards greater transparency.

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“Openness of our operations is one of my key objectives. As part of this, we promised in July 2012 to start publishing agendas and minutes of all seven of our scientific committees by the end of 2013, and we are now delivering on this objective. Achieving our plan for all committees, including those giving recommendations on the marketing authorization of medicines, the CHMP and CVMP, is a major milestone in this transparency initiative,” said Executive Director Guido Rasi.

Iclusig, Upgrades Takes ARIA on Wild Ride

Iclusig is a leukemia treatment that represents nearly all of Ariad’s product pipeline aside from AP26113, a small molecule that has shown potential as a treatment for lung cancer currently in phase II trials. Concerns over blood clots, however, led the FDA to halt clinical trials, sending Ariad’s stock plunging in mid-October.

However, after two months of big swings up and down, an overall uptrend appears to be emerging for Ariad. Shares are up over 85 percent since the start of November, and the first half of December has brought even more traction for beleaguered Ariad investors.

On December 10, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus ($SF) upgraded the stock from hold to buy, setting a new price target of $7 a share. And on Monday Thomas Reuters/Versus upgraded the stock from hold to buy.

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