What it does
Open Orphan Plc (LON:ORPH) was established in 2017 to build a platform that helps pharma companies commercialise their products in Europe, with a specific focus on drugs that treat rare diseases.
Since then, it has built a database of all the firms with orphan drugs that have either been approved or are currently going through the clinic.
Open Orphan has also put together a 4,000-strong directory of physicians and key opinion leaders with expertise in marketing and selling orphan drugs.
Normally, drug developers would have to pay a handsome fee to a third-party to help find those experts, but Open Orphan intends to undercut the market with a cheaper annual subscription which gives the drug companies access to the platform.
In January, Open Orphan merged with challenge trial specialist hVIVO PLC (LON:HVO), whose shareholders ended up owning around 44.7% of the combined entity.
How it is doing
In August, hVIVO signed a £4mln contract to conduct a human challenge study for an unnamed top-three global pharma company.
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) trial will take place at hVIVO’s London quarantine unit and is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter next year.
It came weeks after US biotech Codagenix Inc commissioned a first-in-human trial of a potentially breakthrough nasal vaccine for coronavirus.
The phase I study of 48 healthy young adults will take place at hVIVO's state-of-the-art quarantine facility in London’s Whitechapel.
Work is expected to begin in the autumn with first data assessing safety and immunogenicity (whether the drug provokes an immune response) expected by the end of the year.
What the boss says: Cathal Friel, executive chairman
“This contract, with a top 3 global pharmaceutical company, is evidence of the high regard hVIVO is held in within the industry and reinforces our position as the world leader in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge clinical trials. As a group we are focused on winning and delivering high-quality, profitable contracts and this is another example of our delivery against that strategy.”
What the broker says
In June, finnCap said Open Orphan should be able to generate cost savings of €7.5m by year-end 2020.
Allied to a strong pipeline of work to build revenues in the second half of 2020 that should enable the business to reach operational profitability by the third quarter of this year.
“We leave forecasts unchanged, but with room for upside depending on uptake of the COVID-19 test, and reiterate our target price of 19p,” the broker said.
What the analyst says
"The company is making excellent progress towards operational targets to maximise its portfolio of combined assets and services, with a view to achieving its target of operational profitability by Q3 2020," said Proactive analyst Emma Ulker in August.