Directors in pharmaceutical company Starpharma Holdings have profited – on paper – from recent trades in their own stock.

Tuesday saw this announcement from Starpharma to the ASX. Starpharma revealed the licensing of its Vivagel® to the manufacturers of Durex condoms. There’s been a jump of more than 38% in their share price today.

“Under the terms of this agreement SSL secures marketing rights to the VivaGel® coated condom in most of the world, including Europe and the USA. Starpharma estimates that its receipts under the agreement will exceed A$100m comprising royalties on SSL sales, further milestone payments, and development support,” Starpharma said in the release.

This wa big news for a company capitalised at just $58 million by the local market, even after the big rise in the share price to 32 cents. And some late news — it rose half a cent in late morning trading to 32.5 cents today.

VivaGel® is a self applying means of protecting consenting couples against the ravages of some terrible diseases, and women in particular against one very nasty example of cancer.

Director Dr John Raff picked up 47,903 shares in on market trades reported to the ASX on August 29. That was worth around $11,700, or around 24 cents a share, so this week’s rise makes that worth an extra $3,800.

Then he went again on September 5 with a “on market trade” of 736,000, worth $176,000, or 24 cents a share. So a neat $58,800 or so in extra value from Tuesday’s announcement.

Another director, Richard Hazleton, snapped up 100,000 shares in a trade reported to the ASX the same day, September 5. The cost for this was put at $24,000, or 24 cents a share, so a cool $8,000 in extra value added by Tuesday’s announcement.

Starpharma has described VivaGel® in previous announcements as “a vaginal microbicide for the prevention of HIV and HSV-2. Other applications of VivaGel® are also under assessment, including prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV), contraception and treatment of bacterial vaginosis (BV).” That was in an earlier announcement of a clinical trial for the product made in August.

Decoded the words in that sentence that are the key to investor excitement are “prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV).”

HPV is the cause of cancer of the cervix, which is very popular as a research area following the success of the HPV vaccine developed in Brisbane by Dr Ian Fraser and his team and being marketed around the world as Gardasil. CSL is marketing in Australia and making a mint and has licensed it overseas to drug giants like Merck in the US. UK drug giant, GSK has developed a rival product to try and beat Gardasil.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey