Johnson & Johnson's FDA Bounce Propels the Dow Higher

Johnson & Johnson's FDA Bounce Propels the Dow Higher

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks are back on the upswing today, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been firmly in the green throughout today's trading session. The Dow Jones has retreated from triple-digit gains earlier on in today's market session, but the blue-chip index has still gained more than 60 points as of 2:35 p.m. EDT. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are taking full advantage of the gains, as these two health care standouts have jumped to the top of the Dow leaderboard with gains of 0.8% and 1.3%, respectively. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Pfizer surprises investors
Pfizer's on the way up after the company reported that it will move ahead with developing partner Pain Therapeutics' painkiller drug candidate Remoxy. The FDA has twice turned down Pain Therapeutics' drug, and some analysts and investors had grown worried that Pfizer would drop the drug from its development plans after the setbacks. Pfizer now plans to file for approval once more sometime in 2015.

While the FDA rejected the drug both in 2008 and 2011, Remoxy still offers some potential for Pfizer. Peak sales estimates vary between $500 million and $1 billion annually for the drug, and with Pfizer still drawing up sales to make up for Lipitor's big patent loss, those are numbers the company and its investors would welcome heartily.

Pain Therapeutics' own stock has jumped more than 11% on the news, and the company is in line to pick up a $15 million payout plus royalties from Pfizer if the FDA finally approves the drug.

Johnson & Johnson's also jumping behind positive drug news, as an FDA review today gave the thumbs-up to the safety profile of Johnson & Johnson's hepatitis-C drug candidate simeprevir. The hepatitis C market has exploded recently, as Gilead Sciencesfaces its own drug review this week. Simeprevir's not one of Johnson & Johnson's most promising drugs, but the company still looks to take advantage of the hep-C market with a therapy that could rack up around $650 million in peak annual sales.

Johnson & Johnson investors will have to wait for the real news about simeprevir's future until late November, however. The FDA's scheduled to vote on approving the drug on Nov. 27, although with an acceptable safety profile, simeprevir looks strong heading into its final stretch in the regulatory process.

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