In March 2020, the Trust’s NAV per share returned -2.7% (GBP) while the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NBI) returned -2.5% (GBP). The FTSE All-Share Index returned -15.1% (GBP) and the S&P 500 Index returned -9.8% (GBP). IBT’s share price returned 10.4% (GBP).
The main positive contributors to that NAV in the month were Gilead, Vertex and Biogen. Gilead announced the initiation of two phase 3 trials for their pipeline drug, Remdesivir, to understand the efficacy and safety of the drug for COVID-19. The data is expected to read out at the end of April. Vertex shares did relatively well during the month as their cystic fibrosis franchise was considered to be less exposed in comparison to other drugs. Their medicines are oral and can be delivered directly to patients at home. Biogen shares also held up relatively well as investors anticipated the news of the filing of their Alzheimer’s Disease drug, Aducanumab.
The main detractors from the NAV in the month were PTC Therapeutics, Horizon Therapeutics and Amarin. PTC Therapeutics fell sharply during the month as a result of the COVID-19 hit to the stock market. The company is a mid-stage company which has not yet turned profitable. Similarly, Horizon Therapeutics is another name whose share price decreased significantly during the month, despite there being no significant news events. The Trust held large positions in both these companies and therefore this affected performance to a greater extent than other holdings. Amarin, however, did report a significant negative setback after a US court invalidated the key patents protecting Vascepa – the company’s lead asset, making future generic competition more likely. The company intends to appeal the ruling.