Biotech Stocks: World Diabetes Cases Spike as Biotech Firms Race for Therapies

(Written by Alexander Crawford. Data sourced from Finviz.)

There are now 366 million people around the world living with diabetes, killing someone every seven seconds, according to a new study. Biotech firms, governments, and health organisations are all taking action to halt the growing threat.

The data came from the International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) fifth edition of their Diabetes Atlas. The previous October 2009 edition estimated 285 million worldwide diabetes cases for 2010, clearly indicating an alarming growth rate.

The need for urgent action is being recognised widely. The United Nations is meeting next week to discuss the growing threat of non-communicable diseases (NCD) including diabetes in its second-only meeting on diseases (the other was to discuss the AIDS epidemic in 2001).

The NCD Alliance, representing 2,000 health organisations, argues that spending $9 billion a year on tobacco control, food advice and basic treatments would save tens of millions of lives this decade, according to Reuters.

Biotech firms are also racing for new and improved diabetes therapies. Eli Lilly (LLY) and Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN) have submitted their experimental once-weekly drug Bydureon to the FDA for approval, which should be decided by the end of January, according to Businessweek.

Other similar medications are being or have been developed by other firms – Sanofi’s (SNY) diabetes drug Lyxumia is in the final stages of development, and Novo Nordisk’s (NVO) once-daily injection Victoza was approved by the FDA last year.

The three drugs all work to regulate blood sugar by mimicking a hormone that stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.

Here we report interesting stock data on the companies mentioned in this article. Do you think their drugs will significantly alter how we treat the growing diabetes population?

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1. Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY): Develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceutical products worldwide. Market cap of $42.49B. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up–dividend yield at 5.34%, current ratio at 1.73, and quick ratio at 1.4. The stock has gained 8.74% over the last year.

2. Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AMLN): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of drug candidates for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Market cap of $1.57B. The stock has lost 50.32% over the last year.

3. Sanofi-Aventis (SNY): Engages in the discovery, development, and distribution of therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Market cap of $87.01B. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 8.44% below its SMA20, 12.27% below its SMA50, and 7.63% below its SMA200. It’s been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 7.17% over the last week.

4. Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO): Engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, and marketing of pharmaceutical products in Denmark and internationally. Market cap of $68.25B. The stock has gained 9.28% over the last year.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to see how analyst ratings have changed for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


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