IPOs, Lawsuits, and Cancer Treatments: Healthcare Recap

Healthcare stocks ended the generally positive week on an upswing, with shares of Threshold Pharmaceuticals starting the day up more than 9 percent. But shares of LipoScience, which began their first day of trading on the Nasdaq Friday morning, took a hit as the company was forced lower its initial offering price to $9 per share, and shares of the hospital operator HCA were trading flat after a state judge fined the company for neglecting facility upkeep.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:THLD): Current Price $5.04

The biotechnology company only has a market capitalization of $240 million and its stock price has been rather volatile for the past month, but its pancreatic cancer drug TH-302 portends a promising future.

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Shares were on the rise on Friday after Threshold reported it had earned a $30 million milestone payment for its partner Merck (NYSE:MRK), which has paid for approximately 70 percent of the drug’s development costs. The Merck-led study is being conducted under a Special Protocol Assessment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that will provide basis of an efficacy claim for the drug’s marketing application.

The market for pancreatic cancer drugs is not huge, but it has room for more effective treatments. According to a statement issued by Threshold, pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in Europe and the eleventh most common in the United States. Furthermore, those with the disease have a low survival rate regardless of the disease’s stage, with almost 95 percent of patients dying within 5 years. The company’s treatment is designed to be activated under a specific condition, known as tumor hypoxia, that typically indicates a cancerous growth.

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