Genetic Therapy stock will soar, analysts sayGenetic...

LIFE SCIENCES

April 20, 1993|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

Genetic Therapy stock will soar, analysts say

Genetic Therapy Inc.'s stock price is riding a tide of good news.

Two reports from analysts forecast tremendous growth in the stock over the next several years. Montgomery Securities, which has underwritten the company's stock offerings, says the stock is undervalued and suggests that a fair price by the beginning of 1996 would be $40 a share -- nearly four times the price it has been trading for this winter. First Boston also gives a buy recommendation.

Both Montgomery and First Boston see this quarter as a crucial period for the company because initial results from brain cancer experiments at the National Institutes of Health are expected to be released.

The company is collaborating with two NIH researchers to treat brain tumors through gene therapy, which involves putting new genes into a patient's body. So far, no patient has been cured by the technique.

But the analysts say that the brain cancer experiments, which began in December, might be the first to work.

First Boston projects that the brain cancer therapy alone might cost about $5,000 to $10,000 per patient and result in sales of $330 million or more.

Genetic Therapy's stock jumped last week from $11.50 to $14.50 when Larry Feinberg, formerly a top health care industry analyst and now the head of Oracle Health Associates, told Barron's that Genetic Therapy would be among the beneficiaries of the administration's health care reform package. Other winners, he said, would be Chiron Corp., Barr Laboratories Inc., MDT Corp., MDTC Corp. and Medco Containment Services.

BioWhittaker to dump $1 million in inventory

BioWhittaker Inc. of Walkersville will have to dump $1.1 million worth of inventory that wasn't sold before it expired, the company said yesterday.

The company will write down the value of the inventory -- about 6 cents a share -- in the second quarter ending April 30.

Last year, the company began selling automated equipment that could run 96 tests at the same time. The product is being used by clinical laboratories to test samples for infectious diseases.

But after BioWhittaker installed the equipment, the clinical labs did not order inventory of the accompanying products as fast as the company believed they would.

Even without the write-down, BioWhittaker said second-quarter earnings would be 8 cents a share, compared with 11 cents a share for the same period a year earlier.

Genetic watchdog group targets McDonald's

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Last Saturday, the Pure Food Campaign leafleted 3,000

McDonald's restaurants, among the nation's largest users of dairy and beef products, to make consumers more aware of what it believes is the danger of genetically engineered foods.

The Pure Food Campaign, a Washington-based genetic engineering watchdog group, is particularly concerned about BGH, a hormone that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering for approval for use in cows. The hormone increases milk production, but the group claims that it could increase infection in the animals. In addition, the increase in the milk production would be likely to put small farmers out of business, according to the group.

Calgene's new tomato will face competition

Speaking of genetically engineered food, Calgene's new tomato, which should go on the market this year will be getting some competition from another new variety. DNA Plant Technology Corp. of Cinnaminson, N.J., announced last week that it had sent a vine-ripened tomato, called VineSweet, to supermarkets in the Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, areas.

The two new tomatoes are designed to ripen on the vine and, once picked, to stay fresh longer than normal tomatoes, which sometimes are mushy by the time they get to the market.

DNA Plant Technology said it used accelerated natural selection rather than genetic engineering to develop the VineSweet.

So while consumers begin tasting that new tomato, Calgene's ** genetically engineered Flavr Savr tomato awaits final Food and Drug Administration review. Calgene didn't need the FDA review to market its tomato, but asked for it in response to consumer pressure.

Wyeth-Ayerst Labs to donate medication

Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a division of American Home Products Corp., has promised to donate more hormone replacement therapy to 25,000 women who are participating in a 15-year, $625 million health study.

It will give 100,000 tablets of Premarin(R), Premarin MPA or a placebo for the study.

The study -- the largest clinical trial ever undertaken in the United States -- will focus on the effects of low-fat diets in preventing cancer and heart disease, the benefits and risks of hormone-replacement therapy and the impact of calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing osteoporosis and colon cancer.

Kirschner gains license for hip replacement

Kirschner Medical Corp. of Timonium has obtained the exclusive worldwide license for a new hip replacement device from Tulane University, which holds the patent. The device will broaden the orthopedic company's range of hip replacement devices.

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