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Positive Developments Around Ebola

The Ebola scare in 2014 was resounding within the health care sector, and many biotechs found themselves developing vaccines and related drugs in an effort to be first to market. If any single firm was able to capitalize on this, its valuation would have been through the roof. However as fears have subsided, the development of a vaccine or related drugs has been put on the back burner for most, but one biotech made waves in the market Monday morning.

OraSure Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OSUR) announced that it received a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen Test for use with fingerstick and venous whole blood.

Note that this test has not been cleared or approved by FDA. This test has been authorized by FDA under an EUA for use by laboratories and facilities adequately equipped, trained and capable of testing for Ebola infection.

Douglas A. Michels, president and CEO of OraSure, said:

The OraQuick Rapid Ebola Antigen Test is an easy to use, rapid test, that we believe will be a critical tool in containing and controlling current outbreaks of the Ebola virus. We are grateful to the FDA for working closely with us throughout the EUA process to expedite deployment of our test.

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Separately, a vaccine being developed by NewLink Genetics Corp. (NASDAQ: NLNK) and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) was shown to be 100% effective in preventing Ebola, according to an interim look from a late-stage study in Guinea. However, the results still must be confirmed.

Will Merck and NewLink go the route of taking this as a commercial opportunity? According to Merck Vaccines’ Mark Feinberg in a telephone interview that is not the case, CNBC reported.

Interestingly enough, good news surrounding an Ebola vaccine might spell bad news for specialty suit maker, Lakeland Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: LAKE). However this company is up over 13% in just the past quarter alone.

Arbutus Biopharma Corp. (NASDAQ: ABUS), formerly known as Tekmira, stepped out of the Ebola arena and is now focusing on hepatitis B. The company began trading under its new name and ticker Monday morning.

Shares of OraSure were up 2.6% to $5.07 Monday morning. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $9.43 and a 52-week trading range of $4.42 to $10.93.

NewLink shares were down 1.6% to $51.33, in a 52-week trading range of $17.32 to $58.73. The consensus analyst price target is $59.75.

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Shares of Merck were near flat at $58.95, in a 52-week trading range of $52.49 to $63.62. The consensus price target is $65.29.

Lakeland shares were down 1.2% at $10.38. The consensus price target is $19.00 and the 52-week trading range is $5.50 to $29.55.

Shares of Arbutus were down 3.4% at $10.46.

By Chris Lange