Are These Analysts Right About Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AUPH)?


Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AUPH) just received some analyst ratings, and it seems like some of them are bullish on the name. Aurinia Pharmaceuticals is a late-stage biopharma company that provides products specifically designed and engineered to treat limited, targeted patient population who suffer from serious diseases that have high unmet medical needs.

On March 3, 2017, H.C. Wainwright raised its price target on AUPH to $12.00, from $8.00, and maintained a buy rating on the stock.

H.C. Wainwright Analyst Ed Arce stated“On March 1, after markets closed, Aurinia reported data that is very rarely seen in drug development (Exhibits 1-3). Treatment of lupus nephritis (LN) with voclosporin 23.7 mg BID in patients in the large, global Phase 2b AURA-LV study, which had already achieved a significant improvement in complete remission (CR) over standard-of-care (SOC) at 24 weeks (32.6%; odds ratio, OR: 2.03; p=0.045), demonstrated a substantial further improvement at 48 weeks (49.4%; OR: 3.21; p<0.001)…”

Arce also added, We note that part of the bull thesis on AUPH (and one that we shared) had held that voclosporin was likely to retain a “durable effect” from 24 weeks to 48 weeks of treatment. Of course, the bears had believed that it was possible or likely that voclosporin would lose much of its efficacy after longer term treatment. Actually, Wednesday’s data proved that just the opposite happened. Parenthetically, we note that this type of treatment effect change over time is so uncommon that longer-term studies of effective drugs are commonly referred to as ‘durability of effect’ studies, underscoring the widely-held expectation that just maintaining the same level of efficacy over a longer period (especially a year or more) is a strongly positive result.”

In addition to H.C. Wainwright raising its price target on AUPH, Lerrink Swann also raised its price target on AUPH to $11.00 per share, from $7.

What’s Next For Aurinia Pharmaceuticals

With that in mind, these upgrades helped to push AUPH higher on March 3, 2017. The stock has been on a remarkable run higher, and gained 6.18% on March 3, 2017. Additionally, the stock has been up nearly 50% over the past month and over 100% YTD. The stock was also up nearly 30% over the past week.

Here’s a look at AUPH’s recent stock performance:

Source: TradingView

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Announces Phase III Trial on Track to Start in Q2 2017

On March 1, 2017, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals announced that Voclosporin met 48-week remission endpoints, which achieved the highest complete remission rate of any global Lupus Nephritis study. That’s great news for Aurinia as its drug moves closer to gaining FDA approval, which would allow the company to generate rate revenues and use those earnings to engage in research and development.

According to Aurinia Pharamceuticals“Voclosporin, an investigational drug, is a novel and potentially best-in-class calcineurin inhibitor (‘CNI’) with clinical data in over 2,000 patients across indications. Voclosporin is an immunosuppressant, with a synergistic and dual mechanism of action that has the potential to improve near- and long-term outcomes in lupus nephritis (LN) when added to standard of care mycophenolate mofetil (MMF).”

When speaking on Aurinia’s trial, Brad Rovin, MD, FASN, Director of Nephrology and Vice Chairman of Research for the Department of Internal Medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, stated “Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe complications of systemic lupus erythematosus. The current treatments of LN are toxic and the complete renal response rates are unacceptably low. For the last several years the community of lupus researchers in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry have been engaged in finding more effective therapies for LN, but success has been difficult to achieve…the AURA trial’s long-term results convincingly demonstrate that the addition of voclosporin to standard of care treatment is superior to standard of care alone. These data are not only statistically significant, but clinically important. Twice as many patients given 23.7mg voclosporin twice daily achieved a complete renal response compared to those treated with placebo. This is an impressive renal response rate and these results may shift the treatment paradigm of LN. Based on these encouraging data, I am looking forward to the Phase III trial of voclosporin in LN.”

That being said, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals is poised to rise with voclosporin in its pipeline. The drug has shown the results are statistically significant, and could potentially treat those suffering from lupus nephritis, while minimizing toxicity. However, Aurinia’s results demonstrated that patients taking voclosporin twice a day achieved a complete renal response. Consequently, Aurinia’s pipeline drug could save lives, and there could potentially be more good news when voclosporin’s phase III trial commences.

The Bottom Line

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has been showing some strength over the recent months. Analysts are responding well to Aurinia Pharmaceuticals’ results from its trial, and it seems to be great news for the company. AUPH saw a rise of nearly 30% over the past week, and it could continue higher with this positive data and the analysts price target raises.


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