Some Bold Baseball and Biotech Picks for the 2013 Season

3/11/13Follow @xconomy

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that a patient taking the Inhibitex drug in a clinical trial developed heart failure and died, while others were hospitalized. Within days, Bristol-Myers told shareholders it essentially had to write off the drug completely, and take a $1.8 billion write-off for the failed acquisition. Although many acquisitions are structured with “earn-out” provisions that require little companies to hit certain development goals before they get paid the full acquisition amount, Inhibitex had the leverage in this deal and was able to extract the full $2.5 billion upfront, in cash, from Bristol. If you’re a Bristol shareholder, I feel your pain.

The Melky Cabrera Wild Card of the Year: Cambridge, MA-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IRWD). This normally mediocre outfielder broke out as a star last season, until he was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Assuming he goes off the juice this season to avoid tougher penalties, the question turns to how well he’ll perform when he’s clean. This one is anybody’s guess.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals is in a similarly tricky position for handicappers. The company is in the early days of marketing a new kind of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, and chronic constipation. There are a lot of unknowns here. Even though tens of millions of people complain of these conditions, how many are motivated to get new treatment? How well will Ironwood and its partner, Forest Laboratories, do at getting the word out now that the Web and social media have disrupted traditional mass media marketing campaigns? How well can anybody execute on a primary-care drug rollout, at a time when primary care medicine is declining? How effective will the drug be in real-world use, where repeat prescriptions by doctors and refill orders by patients will be critical. CEO Peter Hecht says he expects it will take about nine months of experience to get solid data that says just how good linaclotide (Linzess) is going to be.

The Mike Trout Rookie of the Year: South San Francisco-based Hyperion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HPTX). The Los Angeles Angels looked like a mess last season, as high-priced superstar Albert Pujols struggled in April. So the Angels promoted 20-year-old hotshot outfielder Mike Trout, who brought new mojo to the Angels clubhouse and set the whole league on fire, hitting .326 with 30 homers, 129 runs, and 49 stolen bases.

Maybe Hyperion Therapeutics never got the advance hype that Trout did, but it has lived up to its early promise. The company went public in July at $10 a share on the hope that its drug glycerol phenylbutyrate (Ravicti) would win FDA approval as a new option for a small group of patients with urea cycle disorders. Hyperion secured the FDA green light on Feb. 1, set an aggressive price at $250,000 to $290,000 per patient per year, and made it … Next Page »

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  • tigers fan

    So, what company compares with Miguel Cabrera? The MVP and triple crown winner. Yes, it may be old-time statistics, but it also the first time a player has achieved it in 35 yrs.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/ Luke Timmerman

    Good question. Miguel Cabrera is an all-around great player, no matter what kinds of stats you look at. The Miguel Cabrera MVP award would have to go to Gilead Sciences. I was skeptical of its Pharmasset acquisition at first, but the Foster City, CA-based biotech giant remains strong in its HIV business, and looks like it has another winner in its lead Hepatitis C drug candidate. I’m confident it has another good one in the pipeline with GS-1101 for hematologic malignancies, which will enable it to break into the cancer field in a big way. It’s taken a while, but Gilead is becoming much more than the 1-dimensional HIV player it used to be, and turning into more of a 5-tool player who can do it all — run, field, throw, hit for power, hit for average.