Just before checking out for the Thanksgiving vacation, Human Genome Sciences announced that it had filed for FDA approval of its promising hepatitis C drug Zalbin, adding that Novartis is expected to file for European approval within the next few weeks. HGS has reaped $207.5 million from its partnership pact with Novartis and stands to earn an additional $300 million following an approval and a successful marketing campaign.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, weighs in today with more bullish remarks on HGS's chances with Benlysta, a new lupus drug that has generated a significant amount of positive data in two late-stage trials. Analysts like Joseph Schwartz at Leerink Swann are calling FDA approval a virtual slam dunk, and the Journal revives speculation that GlaxoSmithKline is likely to swoop in and buy up HGS before it makes the big transition from development to marketing. But a buyout deal wouldn't be cheap.
HGS shares have rocketed up an incredible 1,500 percent in the past year, with investors pulled in by speculation about Benlysta's mega-blockbuster potential and the potential takeover bid. The only sour note at HGS this year has been the FDA's refusal to approve the developer's anthrax drug. But that regulatory snag hasn't dimmed investors' enthusiasm.