Vazalore from PLx Pharma brings innovation to aspirin. Oppenheimer is bullish.

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Illustration by Elias Stein


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Aspirin is an accepted, effective, and inexpensive drug that millions of people take daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Who could improve this?


PLx Pharma

is trying. As the company’s CEO, Natasha Giordano says, “There has been no innovation in the aspirin market for over 50 years.” This creates an opportunity for PLx to launch its new product, Vazalore, in some 30,000 retail pharmacies.

It is a crowded field; Aspirin has been around since 1899. The advantage of Vazalore is that it reduces the tendency of aspirin to irritate the stomach in people who use it regularly, a problem that can lead to ulcers. Best of all, Vazalore has been shown to get better absorption than coated aspirin, according to studies by cardiologist Deepak Bhatt of Harvard Medical School, who heads PLx’s scientific advisory board.

PLx’s task: To convince millions of consumers that Vazalore is worth $ 25 a month, rather than a few dollars for coated aspirin. Some 43 million Americans take aspirin on the advice of their doctor, plus millions more to treat symptoms of arthritis and other conditions. Those numbers have quintupled PLx shares in the past year to $ 19 recently and pushed the company’s market cap from microscopic to $ 500 million.

Oppenheimer analyst Leland Gershell estimates that PLx will become profitable by 2025, earning 81 cents per share on sales of around $ 150 million. He notes the stocks to outperform.

By then, PLx could use the same technology to improve other drugs that upset the stomach.

Last week
It’s all about China

The week started with a crater in stocks, as China Evergrande suffered a liquidity crunch, triggering a global rout. On Monday, the S&P 500 index fell 1.7%; the industrialists of the Dow, 1.8%; and the Nasdaq Composite, 2.2%. Shares were mixed through midweek, then rebounded at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting and suggested it could start pulling stimulus in November. Then came another victim in China: Crypto assets plummeted after the central bank declared them illegal. Over the week, the Dow Jones edged up 0.62%; the S&P rose 0.51% to 4,455.48; and the Nasdaq barely budged, up 0.02% to 15,047.70. Call it a tie.

Not so big

China Evergrande has moved closer to default, threatening growth in a slowing economy. Evergrande is China’s largest developer, with liabilities of $ 306 billion on 778 projects in 223 cities. The great unknown: contagion. Investors seeking yields on Chinese corporate bonds suffer. Evergrande has been heavily funded by specialist lenders and trust companies, which may have links with banks; retail investors are exposed through equity and wealth management accounts. Evergrande was able to “resolve” a payment; the other, on $ 83.5 million, is unclear.

The cliff beckons

House Democrats voted to suspend the impending debt ceiling in the face of Republican opposition. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised the GOP will consistently reject it. The federal government’s ability to borrow to finance debt ends on October 1.

When to boost

A panel of the Food and Drug Administration called for booster injections of the


Pfizer

vaccine for people 65 years of age and over or in an immunocompromised condition, then approved dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must now define who belongs to a high-risk population. CDC chief Rochelle Walensky added high-risk workers. Pfizer has announced that it will seek emergency use approval for a low-dose vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. The death toll from Covid in the United States has surpassed that of the Spanish flu of 1918.

Annals of negotiation


Royal Dutch Shell

has agreed to sell its reserves in the Permian Basin to Conoco for $ 9.5 billion in cash… SoftBank has joined funds from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to support the $ 2.5 billion private equity fund dollars from former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin… American Sports Betting Company


DraftKings

made a £ 16.6bn ($ 22.4bn) offer for a UK gambling company


Entain
,

his second attempt. Entain also rejected in January an offer to


MGM Resorts


US Bancorp

announced it would buy back MUFG Union Bank West Coast banking operations


Mitsubishi UFJ Financial

for $ 8


billion … IAC / Interactive

is in talks to buy magazine publisher Meredith, the Wall Street Journal reported. The price: $ 2.5 billion.

Write to Bill Alpert at [email protected]


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