On May 26, 2022, U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials held a press briefing and announced there had been nine cases of monkeypox identified in seven U.S. states and that two licensed smallpox vaccines were in the national stockpile and ready to be distributed.1 The CDC’s director said, “The U.S. has the resources we need to help us respond to monkeypox in this country right now. We’ve been preparing for this type of outbreak for decades.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of May 26, there have been at least 200 confirmed cases and over 100 suspected cases of monkeypox detected in Europe, Australia and the United States since the first case was reported on May 7, 2022.2 CDC has issued a Level 2 Alert (Practice Enhanced Precautions) for monkeypox for travelers to Canada, Australia, Israel and 12 countries in Europe.3
Following reports of the first confirmed cases of monkeypox in the world, biotechnology companies that develop vaccines and treatments for smallpox and monkeypox experienced a dramatic increase in their shares in the stock market.4 The biotechnology companies that saw an increase in their stock value are Bavarian Nordic, SIGA Technologies, Chimerix and Emergent Biosolutions.5
Moderna Exploring Potential Monkeypox Vaccines
Another company responding to the current outbreak of monkeypox, is Moderna Inc., a biotechnology company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Moderna announced on Twitter that it is investigating potential monkeypox vaccines at the pre-clinical level.6 Moderna also manufactures a messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 biologic known as Spikevax and was granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to distribute Spikevax in the U.S. in December 2020.7
According to Reuters, Moderna did not respond to a request for more details regarding their research and development on monkeypox vaccines.8
Stock Market Shares of Smallpox Vaccine Companies Soar
Bavarian Nordic, a Danish biotechnology company that manufactures a combination smallpox and monkeypox vaccine called JYNNEOS®, had the highest stock increase, close to 75 percent higher, since May 16, 2022.9 The FDA has approved the JYNNEOS® vaccine in adults 18 years of age and older, who are at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox infection.10
SIGA Technologies, an American pharmaceutical company, also benefitted from the monkeypox outbreak news. The company manufactures a smallpox drug known as TPOXX, which is also used for monkeypox and approved for use in the European Union. It can be administered intravenously and orally. SIGA shares increased by 60 percent since May 16, 2022.11 The FDA approved the intravenous form of TPOXX on May 18, 2022 and the oral version in 2018.12 The company said that the U.S. Department of Defense has signed a contract to purchase up to about $7.5 million of oral TPOXX.13
Chimerix, a biotechnology company in Durham, North Carolina, manufactures a drug called Tembexa, which is approved for treating smallpox infections. The company’s shares increased by more than 40 percent.14 On May 16, 2022, Chimerix sold its global rights of Tembexa to Emergent Solutions, a company based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for $225 million plus potential milestone and royalty payments.15
Emergent Biosolutions manufactures BioThrax, an anthrax vaccine that is stockpiled by the government, and also has a $261M contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to add its new AV7909 anthrax vaccine (BioThrax plus the CPG7909 adjuvant) to the national stockpile.16 A congressional report released in May 2022 revealed that Emergent Biosolutions was forced to discard or destroy about 400 million doses of a key ingredient in the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca COVID vaccines because of problems with ingredient contamination and equipment and employee errors.17
Emergent Biosolutions also manufactures a live attenuated smallpox vaccine known as ACAM2000 that was approved by the FDA in 2007 for use in the United States. Its shares increased by 40 percent after the monkeypox outbreak.18 In 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed a $2 billion contract with Emergent Biosolutions to supply its ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile.19
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1 Bendix A. Nine monkeypox cases identified in US: What we know about each of them. NBC May 26, 2022.
2 Roy M. WHO asks countries to increase surveillance for Monkeypox. Reuters May 26, 2022.
3 CDC Monkeypox in multiple countries. May 23, 2022.
4 Seal D. Biopharma Companies Shares Rise Amid Monkeypox Fears. MarketWatch May. 19, 2022.
5 Speights K. Are These 4 Stocks Smart Buys With the Monkeypox Outbreak? Nasdaq May. 24, 2022.
6 Bayer M. Moderna tunes vaccine platform to next potential viral threat: monkeypox. Fierce Biotech May. 23, 2022.
7 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Spikevax and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. May. 16, 2022.
8 Reuters. Moderna testing potential monkeypox vaccines. May. 24, 2022.
10 FDA. FDA approves first live, non-replicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox. Sept. 24, 2019.
11 Speights K. Are These 4 Stocks Smart Buys With the Monkeypox Outbreak? Nasdaq May. 24, 2022.
12 FDA. Smallpox Preparedness and Response Updates from FDA. May. 23, 2022.
13 Seal D. Biopharma Companies Shares Rise Amid Monkeypox Fears. MarketWatch May. 19, 2022.
14 Speights K. Are These 4 Stocks Smart Buys With the Monkeypox Outbreak? Nasdaq May. 24, 2022.
15 FDA. Smallpox Preparedness and Response Updates from FDA. May. 23, 2022.
16 Seal D. Biopharma Companies Shares Rise Amid Monkeypox Fears. MarketWatch May. 19, 2022.
17 Speights K. Are These 4 Stocks Smart Buys With the Monkeypox Outbreak? Nasdaq May. 24, 2022.
19 Precision Vaccines. BARDA Exercises $261 Million Dollar Option for Innovative Anthrax Vaccine. Aug. 1, 2019.
20 Bruggeman L, Pezenik S. Emergent Biosolutions discarded ingredients for 400 million COVID-19 vaccines, probe finds. ABC News May 10 2022.
21 Speights K. Are These 4 Stocks Smart Buys With the Monkeypox Outbreak? Nasdaq May. 24, 2022.
22 Seal D. Biopharma Companies Shares Rise Amid Monkeypox Fears. MarketWatch May. 19, 2022.