Midwest large-cap life-science sector is solid in first quarter

Midwest large-cap life-science sector is solid in first quarter

Last week, we witnessed a biotech meltdown during the first quarter of 2005 amid poor overall stock market performance.
This week, we will take a look at the larger cap life science companies. Note that these results don’t include further bad news for the pharmaceutical sector. You may have noticed headlines at the end of last week when Pfizer announced the FDA’s decision to pull its Cox-2 inhibitor (Bextra) off the market.
This stronger-than-expected action by the FDA went in the face of its own advisory committee, which recommended stronger warnings on the product labeling. Pfizer’s main Cox-2 product (Celebrex) will still stay on the market but with stronger warnings and precautions on its labeling.
The FDA clearly is reacting to public pressure and commentary that its oversight activities have been lax. Once again, I’m supplying you with performance by the overall market and key indices for the first quarter to remind you of the landscape for all stocks.

As bad as the above table seems, the Midwest life science sector performed relatively well with 60 percent of the stocks outperforming the Dow. A number of these companies had some very solid stock performance growth for the quarter.

The above group is rather diverse. It includes drugs, drug stores, medical devices, surgical devices, diagnostics, consumer products and hospital waste management. As a result, it may be difficult to read a general trend.

The bottom line is that almost two-thirds of the companies performed rock solid with American Pharmaceutical Partners performing particularly well (likely due to FDA approval and the launch of new cancer drug Abbraxane, which is an improved form of Paclitaxel).
St. Louis-based Monsanto has also been on a strong rebound after a depressed stock price. Once again, Monsanto has gone on an ag technology buying spree and has announced several acquisitions.
With the exception of Iowa, another interesting aside is that there’s a balance of companies throughout the Midwest with all states having some significant companies. This is not a critique of Iowa, by the way, except that most of its companies are perhaps more in the agricultural sector and may not be publicly traded.
It’s good to know that the Midwest has a modicum of solidity. See you next week!

Michael S. Rosen is the chairman and CEO of Immune Cell Therapy, a new start-up out of the University of Illinois at Chicago developing cancer vaccines. Rosen is also a founder and board member at the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (IBIO). He can be reached at rosenmichaels@aol.com.

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