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Market mirrors chickens’ growth gains in drug trials

IF you trust the market’s view of things, companies should produce drugs for chickens rather than for humans.

Two Perth-based pharmaceutical companies released promising trial results last week and, judging by subsequent share price movements, Chemeq Ltd’s anti-microbial drug for chickens is a better bet than Australian Cancer Technology Ltd’s anti-cancer drug for humans.

Shares in Chemeq this week shot past $2 on news the company’s anti-microbial drug had performed well in tests on poultry.

Chemeq has performed spectacularly in recent months, rising from $1.35 to $1.65 through January before it announced its trial results.

But Chemeq’s shares leapt to $1.90 the day before the company released its results and in the next two trading days they broke through $2.30.

The 40 per cent rise in Chemeq’s value followed the company’s announcement that, in two separate trials, chickens consuming the CHEMEQRTM polymeric antimicrobial drug had gained 20 per cent more weight than untreated chooks. The company is seeking to give poultry farmers an alternative growth agent to antibiotics, and intends to begin production of commercial quantities of its drugs in January 2003.

Australian Cancer Technology Ltd, (“AustCancer”) on the other hand, elicited little response from the share market after it announced it had successfully completed Phase la in the clinical trial of its anti-cancer vaccine, Pentrix,

Results of the Pentrix trial showed “little or no evidence of drug-related toxicity”, according to AustCancer, while preliminary evidence also indicated that most of the eight peptides included in the vaccine formulation were immunogenic in humans.

This news appeared to mean little to investors, however. There was virtually no movement in the company’s share price after its announcement was released.

The company is now able to proceed to Phase 1b trials.

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