While investors eagerly await the beginning of the third-quarter earnings season, biotech stocks continue to gain traction. For the most part, this area of the stock market today has plenty to offer investors now. On one hand, the industry is home to numerous emerging companies. The likes of which are hard at work developing and researching cures for rare diseases. These biotech stocks often see more explosive gains thanks to positive research updates. On the other hand, health care giants like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) offer more consistent returns in the form of dividends.

Moreover, there is also the ongoing pandemic to consider as well. Companies such as AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) continue to make breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19. Namely, the company revealed positive data regarding trials of its COVID-19 antibody-drug cocktail, AZD 7442.

In detail, AstraZeneca’s current treatment can reportedly reduce severe disease or death in non-hospitalized patients. By the company’s estimates, this reduction comes in at a sizable 50% for patients who were symptomatic for seven days or less. Furthermore, executive VP Mene Pangalos, also noted that the drug cocktail provides “continued protection for more than six months”. Overall, this would serve to benefit AstraZeneca as it expands its COVID-19-related offerings. With all this in mind, here are four other biotech stocks to know in the stock market this week.

Top Biotech Stocks To Buy [Or Sell] In October 2021

Merck & Co. Inc.

Merck is a multinational pharmaceutical company with headquarters in New Jersey. With over 130 years of experience, the company has developed many game-changing medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Accordingly, it has been at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten both people and animals. MRK stock currently trades at $80.20 as of 12:46 p.m. ET. Today, the company announced that it has submitted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application to the FDA for Molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir is an investigational oral antiviral medicine for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Together with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, both companies will work with regulatory agencies worldwide to submit applications for emergency use or marketing authorization in the coming months.

The submission is based on the positive results from a planned interim analysis of the drug from its Phase 3 clinical trial. If authorized, this drug could be the first oral antiviral medicine used for the treatment of COVID-19. Given this exciting piece of news, should investors consider adding MRK stock to their portfolios?

MRK stock chart
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

Protagonist Therapeutics Inc.

Following that, we have Protagonist Therapeutics, a biotech company that utilizes its proprietary technology platform to discover and develop novel peptide-based drugs to address significant unmet medical needs. Notably, its Rusfertide (PTG-300) treatment is used for various disorders associated with iron overload and excessive red blood cell production. In essence, it is a synthetic mimetic of the natural hormone hepcidin that regulates iron homeostasis. PTGX stock currently trades at $35.55 as of 12:46 p.m. ET and has been up by over 90% on today’s opening bell.

Investors are likely responding positively to the company’s press release today. Diving into the details, the company announced that the FDA has removed the full clinical hold on its Rusfertide clinical studies. This came after the company provided the FDA with all requested information as the basis for a Complete Response and subsequent removal of the clinical hold. This would allow the company to resume patient dosing in its clinical studies.

Protagonist Therapeutics also says that it is actively preparing to initiate its Phase 3 registrational study for polycythemia vera in the first quarter of 2022. All things considered, is PTGX stock worth investing in?

PTGX stock chart
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

ChemoCentryx Inc.

ChemoCentryx is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and commercializing orally administered therapeutics to treat autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders, and cancers. In essence, its drug candidates target specific chemokines or chemoattractant receptors, which can help block any inflammatory response driven by that particular chemokine while leaving the rest of the immune system unaffected. CCXI stock currently trades at $40.74 as of 12:47 p.m. ET and has more than doubled in valuation since Friday’s opening.

This comes as the company announced the FDA approval of Taveneos, an orally administered selective complement 5a receptor inhibitor. It is used as an adjunctive treatment of adult patients with severe active anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody-associated vasculitis (ANCA vasculitis). ANCA vasculitis is a systemic autoimmune disease that could lead to inflammation and the eventual destruction of small blood vessels. Ultimately, this could lead to organ damage and failure. With that being said, is CCXI stock worth buying right now?

CCXI stock chart
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

AbbVie Inc.

Last but not least, we will be taking a look at AbbVie. If anything, most seasoned health care investors would be familiar with this global biotech firm. With a market cap of over $196 billion, the company is no newcomer to the biotech field today. Through its developmental pipeline, the company is actively studying a vast array of key therapeutic areas. This includes but is not limited to the immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, and virology spaces among others. Now, with ABBV stock trading at $110.95 a share as of 12:47 p.m. ET, could it be worth investing in?

Well, for one thing, CNBC’s Jim Cramer seems to believe so. According to the Mad Money host, ABBV stock is “a very inexpensive stock at 8-time earnings”. Cramer also adds that the company’s shares do come with a respectable annual dividend yield of 5%. All in all, he considers ABBV stock “a bargain” given its current price point.

Not to mention, AbbVie also provided positive updates regarding its upadacitinib drug just last week. Notably, the same drug met all primary and several key secondary endpoints across two Phase 3 studies. In theory, this could further build the case for upadacitinib as a potential treatment for ankylosing spondylitis and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis. Given AbbVie’s current momentum, would ABBV stock be a top buy for you?

ABBV stock chart
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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