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Survey Results Positive for New HAE Drug

Source: Hartaj Singh


November 3, 2023 ( Newswire) Most responding physicians, all with hereditary angioedema patients, indicated an "above average" impression of the treatment's safety and efficacy data, noted an Oppenheimer report.

Astria Therapeutics Inc.'s (ATXS:NASDAQ) investigational drug STAR-0215 could potentially compete with the current standard of care treatment, based on Phase 1a trial results, according to a recent Oppenheimer survey of physicians, analyst Hartaj Singh reported in an October 30 note. STAR-0215 is designed as a long-acting treatment to prevent hereditary angioedema (HAE) attacks.

"Majority respondents (greater than 95%) felt excited for a 3-month/6-month dosing with acceptable safety/efficacy profile," Singh wrote. "We remain bullish."

Stock Undervalued, 530% Return

As such, Oppenheimer maintained its Outperform rating and $30 per share target price on the Massachusetts-based biopharma, noted Singh. The current price, in comparison, is about US$4.76 per share.

"Astria's shares are down 68% versus the SPDR S&P Biotech exchange-traded fund, down 20%, year to date," Singh added. "We view the stock as underappreciated."

The difference between the current and target prices implies a substantial 530% potential return for investors of Astria.

Now is the time to add to positions given that each of two sets of upcoming data on STAR-0215 could boost Astria's stock price, wrote Singh. One batch, the results of the six-month dosing cohorts, is anticipated by year-end 2023. The other set, proof of concept data, is due out before mid-2024.

About the Survey

Singh explained that Oppenheimer surveyed 30 physicians, including allergists/immunologists, dermatologists, internists, and family practitioners, who treat more than 20 HAE patients per year.

The purpose of the survey was to gain these doctors' insights on various aspects of the treatment of HAE, a rare genetic disorder and area of unmet need, and on STAR-0215.

Key Takeaways

Singh summarized the survey findings and presented Oppenheimer's related deductions. Here they are:

1) Trend in treatment type. About 72% of HAE patients are receiving treatment. Of these, 25% are getting prophylactic treatment, another 25% are receiving acute treatment, and the remaining 50% are getting both.

"Given about 90% HAE patients with mono/dual therapy, we believe maintaining acute and prophylaxis as two types of treatment is a consistent trend," Singh wrote.

2) Predominance of Takhzyro treatment. About 50% of patients receiving treatment get it through injections. Of this population, half are on Takhzyro, the standard of care for HAE attack prevention. This bodes well for STAR-0215, Singh pointed out, given its equivalent-to-better risks versus benefits profile and its potentially longer period between doses.

"Takhzyro's market share could be an initial target, in our view," added Singh.

3) Physician awareness of STAR-0215. Of the physicians who responded to the survey, 70% had not heard of Astria's investigative prophylactic HAE drug. Further, about 70% of respondents indicated the burden of current therapy, financially, economically, and emotionally, is concerning to their HAE patients.

"We think Astria has room to educate HAE physicians and patients and get more exposure for STAR-0215 to [the] HAE community," wrote Singh.

4) Physician attitudes toward STAR-0215. The survey showed that about 95% of the responding physicians have an "above average impression" of STAR-0215's Phase 1a safety and efficacy data. About 13% expressed concern about the rate of side effects that occurred with STAR-0215 and wanted larger trials.

"Varied expectations around HAE attack reduction among respondents indicates that robust proof of concept (mid-2024) risk/benefit data could impress," Singh noted.

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