Pharmaceutical

stethoscope and pen on a medical chart

2021 is at an end, which means it’s time to reflect on the top-performing NASDAQ pharma stocks year-to-date.

Click here to read the previous top NASDAQ pharma stocks article.

2021 wasn’t without challenges for the pharmaceutical market, which, like other sectors, is bound to face lasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

That being said, the major underlying drivers for the pharma industry — such as the increasing prevalence of cancer and chronic diseases — will no doubt continue to propel innovation and growth.

The US reigns supreme in the pharma market, both in terms of drug demand and development. As of December 21, 2021, 48 novel medicines had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the year.


Big Pharma largely stole the show throughout the course of the year, but a number of small- and mid-cap NASDAQ pharma stocks also made waves in 2021.

Below the Investing News Network profiles 2021’s five top NASDAQ pharma stocks. Data was compiled on December 9, 2021, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies listed had market caps between US$50 million and US$500 million at that time. Read on to learn more about their activities this past year.

1. Opiant Pharmaceuticals

Market cap: US$151.99 million; current share price: US$33.28; year-to-date gain: 307.54 percent

Opiant Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OPNT) is a specialty pharmaceutical company developing medicines for addiction and drug overdoses. The company developed the first FDA-approved naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray treatment to reverse opioid overdoses, marketed as NARCAN.

Opiant Pharmaceuticals’ Q3 revenue reached US$16.3 million, a 79 percent increase over the same period in 2020, due in large part to NARCAN nasal spray royalties. In early November, the FDA granted the company fast-track designation for nasal nalmefene (OPNT003), its investigational treatment for opioid overdose.

2. aTyr Pharma

Market cap: US$239.28 million; current share price: US$8.19; year-to-date gain: 112.63 percent

aTyr Pharma (NASDAQ:LIFE) is developing medicines based on novel biological pathways. The pharmaceutical company focuses its research and development on the extracellular functionality and signaling pathways of tRNA synthetases. aTyr’s pipeline contains product candidates derived from 20 tRNA synthetase genes.

The company’s primary clinical-stage product candidate is ATYR1923, which binds to the neuropilin-2 receptor and is designed to down-regulate immune engagement in inflammatory lung diseases. In late November, the company announced that FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies has inked a manufacturing agreement for ATYR193 that includes the manufacturing of bulk drug substance for additional clinical trials in interstitial lung disease.

3. PLx Pharma

Market cap: US$274.27 million; current share price: US$9.87; year-to-date gain: 78.8 percent

PLx Pharma (NASDAQ:PLXP) has developed a commercial-stage drug-delivery platform known as PLxGuard. PLxGuard's goal is to improve the absorption of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the gastrointestinal tract. It is a clinically validated and patent-protected technology that has the potential to not only improve the absorption of many drugs on the market or in development, but also to reduce the risk of drug-associated stomach injury.

PLx Pharma’s Q3 financial report includes total revenues of US$6.6 million compared to no revenue in the same quarter of 2020. This increase is due to the launch of its FDA-approved VAZALORE 81 milligram and 325 milligram dose strengths with initial distribution to US retail channels.

4. Citius Pharmaceuticals

Market cap: US$270.06 million; current share price: US$1.74; year-to-date gain: 70.59 percent

Citius Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CTXR) is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing and commercializing first-in-class critical care products. The company’s range of focuses includes oncology, anti-infective products in adjunct cancer care, stem cell therapy and unique prescription products.

Citius Pharmaceuticals completed patient enrollment in its pivotal Phase 3 trial of I/ONTAK in early December 2021. I/ONTAK is an engineered IL-2-diphtheria toxin fusion protein targeting the treatment of patients with persistent or recurrent cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Top-line results for the completed treatment phase of the study are expected in the first half of 2022. The company expects to file a biologics license application with the FDA in the second half of 2022.

5. Cumberland Pharmaceuticals

Market cap: US$85.6 million; current share price: US$4.82; year-to-date gain: 63.39 percent

Cumberland Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CPIX) is a specialty pharmaceutical company that is acquiring, developing and commercializing branded prescription products that are designed to improve quality of care and address unmet medical needs. The company’s portfolio of FDA-approved products targets the areas of hospital acute care, gastroenterology and rheumatoid arthritis.

The company’s Q3 financial results highlight net revenues of US$8.1 million from continuing operations, for a total of US$27.7 million for the first nine months of 2021. That's up 1.8 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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