Pharmaceutical Investing

The past ten years have seen pharmaceutical companies take a different approach to developing respiratory drugs, making them more targeted to specific diseases.

Respiratory diseases encompass everything from mild asthma to cystic fibrosis (CF). In other words, they can be manageable impediments or fatal conditions. Historically, drug companies have focused on the symptoms, rather than the cause, of these disorders: they develop therapies to treat lung infections, excess mucus production or coughs, for example, instead of the root disorder. But that’s all changing. 
The past ten years have seen pharmaceutical companies take a different approach to developing respiratory drugs, making them more targeted to specific diseases.

3 pharmaceutical companies helping us breathe easy

Case in point: Kalydeco, a CF therapy developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX). This precision medication is the first to actually treat the cause of CF, rather than just the symptoms.
But it’s not only large cap companies like Vertex who are transforming this market. Consider Aradigm (NASDAQ:ARDM). With a market cap of just US$96.32 million, they may seem small stakes. But this specialty pharmaceutical company is making a play for major market share.
Their leading product candidate, Pulmaquin, treats infections specifically associated with non CF bronchiectasis—a rare disease for which there are no approved drug treatments. Today, physicians recommend that patients undertake inspiratory muscle training to improve their quality of life, or treat the chronic infections with general antibiotics.
That may change is Pulmaquin is approved. Currently in phase III clinical trials, this inhalable drug has proven to reduce the density of pseudomonas aeruginosa, the bacteria that causes chronic infections in patients with non CF bronchiectasis.
RespireRx (OTCQB:RSPI) is another company investors may wish to keep an eye on. This pharmaceutical manufacturer focuses on respiratory disorders that originate in the brain, like obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The company is currently undertaking a proof of concept trial to see whether FDA approved drug Dronabinol can also be used to treat this disorder.
Most cases of sleep apnea are currently treated with a medical device: a mask connected to an air pump that creates constant airway pressure. Although effective, 50 percent of patients stop using this device, likely because of its obtrusive nature. As such, there seems to be great demand for a more inconspicuous pharmaceutical treatment, of the sort RespireRx is at work on.
Then there’s Nivalis Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NVLS), which develops therapies for CF. Their lead candidate, cavosonstat, is designed to modify the dysregulation of epithelial fluid which causes the disease. A precision medication, it treats CF patients with the most common type of genetic mutation linked to the disease.
The product is currently in two phase II trials.

Market growth

There’s good reason for pharmaceutical companies to invest their energy into respiratory drugs. For one, the market is already huge: the World Health Organization estimates that around 300 million people have asthma for example, while 210 million experience chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are hundreds more respiratory conditions, and while they may not be as prevalent as asthma or COPD, their treatment options are also not as advanced.
And the market is only growing, since the number of people suffering from these respiratory diseases is on the rise. That increase can be attributed to any number of causes, including pollution, tobacco use and greater urbanization.
So it’s no wonder that researchers forecast such solid growth for the respiratory drug market: globally, it’s growing at a projected CAGR of 7.5 percent. Valued at $28.1 billion in 2015, it should reach $46.6 billion by 2022, according to data from
There are no guaranteed returns from this market, of course … but with numbers like that, investors might breathe a little easier buying in.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Chelsea Pratt, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: RespireRx is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.


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