Healthcare stocks are once again gaining momentum, as sector trends in fresh technology and drugs are generating interest among investors. As medical experts and scientists discover diseases, healthcare companies are ready to meet these challenges by working to develop advanced solutions. Because of this, the healthcare sector manages to remain above the curve, which in turn promotes growth in the sector.
According to Modern Healthcare, “the healthcare industry has long fueled the country’s economy. Demand is expected to pick up as the population ages, people live longer, more gain insurance coverage and chronic conditions become more prevalent”. As demand for new healthcare technology, devices and drugs rises, several healthcare stocks are seeing a boost in the markets.
Premier Health Group (PHGRF) (PHGI.CN), a company focused on innovative healthcare approaches that combine human skill-based expertise with emerging technologies, announced that further to its previous news release, it has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire two cash flow positive Metro Vancouver pharmacies with certain arm’s-length vendors. The pharmacies had combined annual revenue of approximately $6 million for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2018, and Premier Health expects to complete the acquisition during Q2 2019.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to acquire two well-run and profitable pharmacies. As part of our patient centric model, fill and fulfillment is a major component of our telemedicine app. We are also pleased to have the pharmacies’ key management team, with over 20 years’ of combined experience managing pharmacies, come on board to continue running operations. In light of our recent announcement of our medical cannabis decision tool for our JUNO EMR clients, our pharmacists will be able to help with patient education and support regarding medical cannabis” said Dr. Essam Hamza, CEO. “In addition, with one of the pharmacies occupying a space of over 6,000 square feet, we have the potential to open a new medical and/or cannabis clinic within the existing space.”
This news followed the announcement that the company has initiated integration of CB2 Insights’ (CBII.CN) medical cannabis Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool to provide Premier Health’s over 4600 physicians using its Juno EMR platform access to the industry’s sole medical cannabis-specific CDS tool. Premier Health has also recently partnered with Bio Conscious Technologies (BCT) to bring their artificial intelligence (AI) technology to Premier Health’s user base for improved monitoring and management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
Histogenics Corporation (HSGX), which develops restorative cell therapies that may offer rapid-onset pain relief, and privately held Ocugen announced a merger that will create a new, Nasdaq-listed company aiming to develop novel ocular gene therapies and biotherapeutics under the Ocugen name. This deal is a stock-for-stock transaction in which Ocugen stockholders will become the majority owners of about 90% of outstanding Histogenics common stock upon closing.
“This transaction with Ocugen reflects the continued commitment of our management team and board of directors to deliver value to stockholders and make a difference in patients’ lives,” said Histogenics President Adam Gridley. “Following a thorough review of strategic alternatives for Histogenics and the NeoCart program, we have determined that a merger with Ocugen will enable Histogenics investors to participate in Ocugen’s broader pipeline of ocular disease and gene therapy opportunities, including several late-stage clinical candidates and a robust preclinical platform. In addition, we plan to continue to evaluate opportunities to realize additional value from the discontinued NeoCart program over the coming weeks.”
Ocugen has a pipeline of ophthalmology programs which include a modifier gene therapy platform, including OCU400 for the treatment of NR2E3-mutation associated retinal degenerative diseases which was granted Orphan Drug Designation from the FDA in February. OCU410 is a second in-line modifier gene therapy in preclinical development for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration. Its other candidates under development include: OCU300 for ocular graft versus host disease; OCU200 for wet AMD; and OCU100 for retinitis pigmentosa.
Moleculin Biotech, Inc., (MBRX), a clinical stage pharmaceutical company with a broad portfolio of drug candidates targeting highly resistant tumors, announced it has successfully expanded the clinical supply of Annamycin for its on-going clinical trials via BSP Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. in Latina, Italy.
“Securing production supply for a liposomal anthracycline like Annamycin is no trivial matter, which is why we partnered last year with a quality supplier like BSP, who will be able to supply Annamycin in commercial quantities going forward,” commented Walter Klemp, Chairman and CEO. “They have worked diligently to establish production capability and are now supplying our Annamycin drug for our clinical trials in the U.S. and the EU. We believe having a partnership with a pharmaceutical manufacturer the caliber of BSP mitigates our development risk and better positions us to further advance the clinical development of Annamycin as we work to develop effective solutions for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.”
This news followed preclinical data supporting activity of the company’s STAT3-inhibiting Immune/Transcription Modulators was presented by Dr. Waldemar Priebe, Founder, at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The presentation concluded that the prelimary data for WP1066 and calls for further pre-clinical and clinical evaluation, alone and in combination with immunotherapy, for the potential as encouraging new therapeutics for pancreatic cancer.
Vital Therapies, Inc. (VTL), a biotherapeutic company that has been developing ELAD®, a cell-based therapy targeting the treatment of acute forms of liver failure, announced that its stockholders voted to approve the proposals required to complete the business combination with Immunic AG, in which 98.82% of the shares voted at the special stockholder meeting voted in favor of the Exchange Agreement proposal.
“We truly appreciate the support we have received from our stockholders for this transformational combination with Immunic,” said Duane Nash, President and CEO. “We believe that this outcome represents the best option for our stockholders, as the transaction is expected to create a publicly listed company with a strong cash position and promising portfolio of multiple oral drug candidates with best-in-class potential for the treatment of highly-prevalent and debilitating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. I look forward to handing the baton to Immunic’s Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Vitt, Ph.D., and his experienced team of executives to enable the further development of these important drug candidates.”
As previously announced, the Boards of Directors of both companies unanimously approved the business combination, anticipated to be completed by mid-April 2019. In connection with the closing of the transaction, Vital Therapies will change its name to Immunic, Inc. and the company’s shares will begin trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol “IMUX”.
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