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Orphan Drug Maker: A Cramer Spec Play

Friday, 8 Mar 2013 | 6:27 PM ET
Spec Stock: Cramer Profiles Orphan Drug Maker
Mad Money host Jim Cramer discusses his latest spec play.

"Allow me to introduce you to a new name for speculation Friday," said Jim Cramer, "or rather a very old name that we haven't checked on in an extremely long time."

The stock is ViroPharma (TICKER: VPHM).

Cramer called this company his favorite kind of biotech play, "that is, it's an orphan drug play, meaning it develops drugs for ultra-rare diseases that are untreated.

Cramer admitted that if you follow pharmaceuticals you might not think of ViroPharma as an orphan drug maker.

"It didn't used to be one," he said.


It was once the maker of an antibiotic called Vancocin, Cramer said. However, Wall Street forgot about this stock when the drug went generic about a year ago.

"But something happened in the interim, ViroPharma transformed itself," Cramer said. "The new ViroPharma is now the maker of specialized drugs, the kind that Wall Street gets excited about."

Cramer said the drug to watch is called Cinryze and it's used to treat a blood disorder that can cause severe swelling in the face, the extremities as well as the throat and the GI tract.

"With Cinryze, ViroPharma has the only therapy on the market that's designed to prevent these attacks from happening, which is why they can charge something like $350,000 a year for treatment," he said.

Photononstop | Getty Images

Management estimates peak sales could be as much as $700 million a year.

Cramer, however, thinks the forecast may be too conservative.

"There are about 5,000 people in the United States who suffer from the blood disorder and in the four years since Cinryze has been on the market, the company has penetrated just 20% of known patients," Cramer explained. "The vast majority of people with this condition still go untreated and even undiagnosed. However, as more doctors and patients become aware that there's a treatment, Cinryze sales could continue to exceed expectations."

Of course this is a spec play – and with a spec play comes risk.

"Cinryze loses its market exclusivity in 2016, and people are worried that when that happens, ViroPharma could face competition," Cramer said.

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Cramer however calls the worries overdone. "With these rare orphan conditions, people are very unlikely to switch drugs once they find something that works."

And he added, like so many other biopharma companies ViroPharma isn't a one drug wonder.

"This is a very well-managed company that has made a series of smart acquisitions in recent years. In 2011 they bought a drug called Plenadren for adrenal insufficiency. The company expects Plenadren to generate peak sales of $150 to $250 million in the EU alone. As for the United States, the FDA asked for more data on this drug earlier this week, so the company will have to do an additional study, but I think it will ultimately get FDA approval."

All told, Cramer likes what he sees. And he thinks the Street will like it too.

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

Questions, comments, suggestions for the "Mad Money" website? madcap@cnbc.com

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