(NASDAQ:ESPR) Esperion Therapeutics Inc

 

(NASDAQ:ESPR) Esperion Therapeutics, Inc. peaked out and closed at $48.90, way up from about $10 where it sat last August, but way below its all-time high of $107.51 in spring 2015. Still, ESPR has been on a good run since about January, but especially since June, probably based on positive news coming out on various stages of ongoing clinical trials. ESPR is a pharmaceutical company based in Ann Arbor, MI and dedicated pretty much exclusively to developing non-statin LDL cholesterol drugs with safer profiles and fewer side effects than the statins currently on the market.

espr stock

THE COMPANY
ESPR Esperion Therapeutics Inc. has an interesting history, having been acquired by Phizer in 2004 for $1.3Bn in order to get sole possession of an experimental statin called ETC-216 and prevent their competitors from obtaining it. Esperion was founded by Dr. Roger Newton, the man responsible for co-discovering the Lipitor molecule, a statin drug and the most prescribed medication in the history of pharmaceuticals. Phizer eventually killed off the research and ESPR was re-acquired by Dr. Newton after he raised the capital to buy the rights to the name and to their other experimental compound, ETC-1002, which is also a novel cholesterol treatment based on the biological properties of bempedoic acid, which is converted to ETC-1002-CoA in the human liver and, through a sequence of reactions, results in the liver’s removal of LDL-C from the blood.

ESPR has pushed bempedoic acid in 18 completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical studies and it is currently being evaluated in four other Phase 3 LDL efficacy and safety studies, along with one cardiovascular outcomes trial. Their pipeline consists solely of Bempedoic Acid (once daily pill) and a combination of Bempedoic Acid and Ezetimibe (once daily pill) which itself just began Phase 3 trials.

ESPR stock price has fluctuated greatly in the past 52-week period with a range of $9.40 to $57.38 and earlier in August they announced an underwritten offering of 3,100,000 shares to the public at $49.00 per with the goal of continuing to finance the previously mentioned clinical trials for the two drugs in their pipeline. There’s lots of detailed technical information out there on these trials, but suffice it to say that if any one or a combination of them are unqualified successes, they could be looking at blockbuster status on par with or even bigger than Lipitor and of course a huge uptick in value. Results are somewhat far off, however, with expected announcements after the completion of the studies in Q2 and Q3 2018 and various bridging studies yet to begin. Of note, ESPR’s R&D budget for the first six months of 2017 was $74.1M compared to $19.5M for the same period in 2016.

We think this makes ESPR an intriguing investment. With the FDA having approved an abbreviated regulatory pathway to the bempedoic acid/ezetimibe combination, and a looming New Drug Application anticipated after the studies are concluded in 2018, this stock may take a slight dive in the next few weeks, but rally significantly toward its $107.51 all-time high by the end of 2018.

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