Ladenburg starts Achieve Life Sciences at buy; PT $12


Ladenburg Thalmann initiated coverage of Achieve Life Sciences (NASDAQ:ACHV) with a “buy” rating and $12 price target. The stock finished at $2.80 on August 17.

Achieve is developing cytisine, a natural compound with well-known smoking cessation properties in Central/Eastern Europe, under the brand name, Tabex, but never approved in western Europe or the U.S. 

“Compared with other therapies, including varenicline (Chantix), bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) and nicotine replacement therapies, we believe cytisine has three main advantages: better tolerability than varenicline and bupropion; greater efficacy; and shorter treatment courses than any other therapy (25 days versus eight-to-12 weeks),” writes analyst Michael Higgins. 

“These benefits are supported by cytisine’s long history and recent investigator-sponsored Phase 3s (TASC, CASCAID),” he added. 

With several company-sponsored safety/PK studies completed, Achieve is now preparing to initiate a Phase 2b trial with 250 patients in the fourth quarter of 2018, with data expected in the second quarter of 2019. 

Two additional Phase 3s would follow with about 800 and 1,500 patients, likely in the second half of 2019, Mr. Higgins said. “We believe these trials will improve upon prior investigator studies,” he added. 

Stephen Kilmer