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Narrower-Than-Expected Loss at Rigel Pharma

AZN RIGL LCI

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Rigel Pharmaceuticals’ (RIGL - Snapshot Report) first-quarter 2013 loss of 29 cents per share was narrower than both the Zacks Consensus Estimate as well as the year-ago quarter loss of 32 cents. The share count in the first quarter of 2013 was higher than a year ago.

Rigel Pharma did not generate any revenues this quarter. We note that in the first quarter of 2012 Rigel Pharma had received a payment of $0.75 million from Daiichi Sankyo, which was recorded under contract revenues.

Research and development expenses came in at $20.3 million in the first quarter of 2013, up 13.5%. The increase was attributable to Rigel Pharma’s pipeline development efforts. General and administrative (G&A) expenses decreased 12.4% to $5.4 million in the first quarter of 2013.

We are encouraged by Rigel Pharma’s efforts to develop its pipeline. In Apr 2013, Rigel Pharma’s partner AstraZeneca (AZN - Analyst Report) announced top-line data from the phase III study (OSKIRA-1: n = 923) on the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) candidate fostamatinib. The study assessed the safety and efficacy of the candidate for a period of 24 weeks.

The study evaluated two dosing regimens of fostamatinib, 100 mg twice daily and 100 mg twice daily for four weeks followed by 150 mg once daily in combination with methotrexate versus methotrexate along with placebo.

The study revealed mixed results on fostamatinib. While fostamatinib demonstrated significant improvement in the signs and symptoms of RA, measured using American College of Rheumatology 20 response rates, it did not show a statistically significant difference in modified total sharp score. Data from two other studies on fostamatinib, OSKIRA-2 and OSKIRA-3, are expected by Jun 30, 2013.

Rigel Pharma currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Companies, such as Lannett Company, Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report) and Santarus, Inc. , appear to be more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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