Why Esperion Therapeutics Inc. Stock Bolted Higher Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of the clinical-stage biopharma Esperion Therapeutics rose by more than 18% this morning following an update for the company's lead product candidate ETC-1002. According to the press release, the orally delivered drug met its primary endpoint of significantly lowering low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, or LDL-cholesterol, levels from baseline, compared to patients receiving placebo on stable statin therapy.

Most impressively, patients taking ETC-1002 exhibited a 17% and 24% decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels, which was associated with the dosage individuals received during the study (120 mg versus 180 mg). The experimental drug's safety profile was reported as favorable as well, with no serious adverse events being attributed to ETC-1002 during the study period.

So what: The LDL-cholesterol lowering drug market is presently valued at a staggering $14 billion in the U.S. alone. Moreover, there is a demonstrable need for new drugs for some patients that are unable to take statins in high enough quantities to reduce their LDL-cholesterol levels.

Esperion is hoping to fill this unmet medical need with ETC-1002. And today's positive clinical update suggests that it might indeed be an important new therapy for patients suffering from high cholesterol at some point down the road.

Now what: Although the details haven't been fleshed out yet, Esperion now plans to push the drug into a pivotal late-stage trial soon based on these strong mid-stage results. If all goes as planned, we could see this once-daily, oral treatment for high cholesterol hit the market by approximately 2017 -- adding to the host of novel cholesterol drugs expected to reach the market within the next two to three years.

The article Why Esperion Therapeutics Inc. Stock Bolted Higher Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

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