If you’ve ever had a migraine or know someone who has, you know it’s something you would pretty much do anything to get rid of. Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding (NYSE:BHVN), a commercial-stage pharma company focused on drugs that target the nervous system, is keenly aware of the relief that migraine treatment can bring to these sufferers.
Biohaven first received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its drug, Nurtec ODT, in February 2020. The drug was originally approved for the treatment of migraines. Now, a new FDA approval has opened the doors to additional opportunities for patients, and potential revenue growth for Biohaven.
In May of this year, Nurtec received a new FDA approval, this time for use in preventing migraines. This approval has given Biohaven the only approved medication for prevention and treatment of migraines. It is also the first, and only, for prevention of migraines.
Open doors to revenue
Since the launch of Nurtec in February 2020, the company has pulled in $200 million in revenue due to the migraine drug. On July 7 of this year, the company announced that preliminary product revenue total was $93 million for the second quarter alone. That number is nearly half of the total revenue generated by Nurtec since its launch in a little more than four quarters’ worth of sales, and total prescriptions filled are now at 750,000 since launch. Of that number, 52% of prescriptions are new to the brand.
The $93 million in preliminary product revenue for the second quarter was an astounding 112% increase over the previous quarter, and crushed the average $54.7 million number anticipated by analysts. The company is looking for even greater things to come in a growing migraine-treatment market and in the wake of an ongoing worldwide pandemic. As noted by Biohaven CEO Dr. Vlad Coric: “As the first and only dual-therapy medication indicated to both treat and prevent migraines, NURTEC ODT is redefining the treatment paradigm for patients.”
A preventative treatment would be welcome relief to the over 40 million people in the U.S. who suffer from migraines. In fact, the World Health Organization classifies migraines as one of the 10 most disabling medical illnesses, and the third most prevalent illness in the world.
The Journal of Headache and Pain conducted a survey of 1,000 migraine sufferers in July 2020. The survey found that COVID-19 had a negative impact on migraine sufferers — 59% reported an increase in frequency of migraines, with 63% of all respondents noting that the severity of migraines worsened compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Of the 1,000 survey respondents, only 4% acknowledged being infected by COVID-19; that means the vast majority of those experiencing increased frequency or severity compared to pre-pandemic experiences may have been affected simply by the stress of the pandemic spreading throughout the world. Now, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads, it would not be unreasonable to expect migraine sufferers to continue to experience issues, and rely on Nurtec to help prevent episodes from happening or worsening.
What the market holds
The global market for migraine treatment is expected to grow to upwards of $7 billion, at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 15%, as projected by some data forecasts through 2027. That market projection provides an outlook that favors Biohaven and its investors; Biohaven has a clear advantage, as Nurtec is the first (and so far only) approved dual preventative and treatment for migraine sufferers.
But Nurtec is currently the only FDA-approved drug for the company. It will need to rely on a pipeline of drugs in late-stage testing, such as glutamate modulation for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, in order to generate and continue growing revenue to keep long-term investors happy.
Biohaven is also not without competitors in this space. A primary competitor to Nurtec is Ubrelvy, from Abbvie (NYSE:ABBV). Ubrelvy produced sales of $65 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, and followed that up with $81 million in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 24%. The company estimates that Ubrelvy will hit peak sales of greater than $1 billion over thhe next few years.
Is Biohaven worth an investment?
Upon announcement of preliminary product revenue results, Biohaven’s share price jumped 12% the same day, going to nearly $113. Since that July 7 announcement, the stock is up another 4%, while hitting a 52-week and all-time high of $118. Analysts’ 12-month price targets are in the neighborhood of $116, which is squarely in line with where the stock price has moved as of late. But investors should also note that the stock has seen a huge uptick in just the past two months, shooting up from $70 on May 10 to the new highs of this past week at $118. That’s a 68% slingshot in a very short time frame.
If Biohaven can continue to grow revenue for Nurtec at a rapid pace, while staving off the competition, there’s enough positive news to keep it on the radar of long-term investors. But after such a strong jump in a short amount of time, I’d wait a bit to see if a profit-taking dip occurs, or if more analysts raise price targets to meet the high-end target of $140. I’d also be on the lookout for news about the company’s pipeline of drug candidates currently in testing phases.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.