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Alkermes (ALKS - Analyst Report) announced that it has received a notice of allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for U.S. patent  application 14/032,736 (prodrugs of fumarates and their use in treating various diseases). It covers Alkermes’ early stage multiple sclerosis candidate ALKS 8700. The candidate is a small-molecule prodrug of monomethyl fumarate (MMF) being developed for treating patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.

The USPTO issues a notice of allowance only after the patent application is deemed fit enough to be granted a patent on its basis. Alkermes stated in its press release that it expects the above mentioned patent to be issued in the next few months. Furthermore, the patent is not expected to expire before 2033.

Alkermes intends to file an investigational new drug (IND) application for ALKS 8700 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and move the candidate into phase I studies in mid 2014. The candidate is being developed under Alkermes’ MMF program. The MMF produgs in this program, including ALKS 8700, are designed to offer advantages over Biogen Idec’s (BIIB - Analyst Report) oral MS treatment, Tecfidera.

Although pleased with the progress of ALKS 8700 we believe that investor focus will remain on Alkermes’ late stage/mid stage candidates, such as ALKS 5461 for treating patients suffering from major depressive disorder, aripiprazole lauroxil (formerly known as ALKS 9070) and ALKS 3831 for treating schizophrenia among others. The pipeline at Alkermes has expanded significantly following its purchase of Elan’s (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Perrigo Company Public Ltd. (PRGO - Analyst Report) drug delivery unit.

Alkermes currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) reflecting short-term pressure on the stock. BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN - Analyst Report) is an example of a better-ranked stock. It carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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