The seven profiles on the preceding pages offer inspiring stories of life over death, aided by new technological advances.
Modern medical miracles are increasingly less rare. Even if you never experience one directly, such new breakthroughs may affect you indirectly.
Here are just a couple examples:
Life-and-death breakthroughs are also financial ones, so bet your money on cancer fighters
By Kiplinger’s Personal Finance © 2013
Advances in medical research have already transformed many kinds of cancer into curable diseases. Medical experts say that recent clinical trials and treatment breakthroughs show even more promise. That’s giving patients new hope. It is also causing investors to bid up the prices of biotechnology companies that specialize in cancer cures.
Consider the case of Medivation (symbol MDVN), a San Francisco company that’s working to zap prostate cancer. In October 2011, the stock traded at $8. But with a newly approved prostate cancer drug, the shares now fetch $57, even though Medivation is still losing money. Yet Medivation remains one of analyst Geoffrey Porges, of Bernstein Research, top picks. He believes it will hit $65 within a year.
Another good prospect, says RBC Capital Markets analyst Adnan Butt, is Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI), which already has three drugs on the market and 11 in the pipeline, including drugs to treat lung and bladder cancers. And the company is profitable. For the first six months of 2012, earnings roughly tripled — to $65 million, or $1.09 per share — from the same period a year earlier. That kind of growth normally begets a sky-high price-earnings ratio, but Spectrum, at $11, trades at just 10 times estimated 2013 earnings. Butt’s one-year price target for Spectrum is $17.
UBS analyst Matthew Roden recommends Incyte (INCY). The Wilmington, Del., concern has a host of drugs in late-stage clinical trials that would treat several rare blood cancers. It is also working on medicines to treat such common ailments as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Incyte is on the cusp of releasing trial results that could persuade the market that these drugs are viable, which is why Roden thinks the company’s shares will sell for $26 within a year, up from the current $19.
Morningstar analyst Karen Andersen considers Exelixis (EXEL) an even better idea. It has a drug callled cabozantinib in late-stage clinical trials for the treatment of thyroid cancer. But the drug also appears capable of attacking several other cancers, including lung and prostate. She thinks Exelixis is worth $11 a share, more than twice the current price of less than $5.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) has been a hot stock, more than doubling over the past year. Deutsche Bank analyst Navdeep Singh is bullish on the company’s prospects because of a recently approved drug for multiple myeloma, which could ring up $3 billion in annual sales as soon as next year. He believes Onyx, which now sells for $77, will reach $105 within a year if a bigger drug maker doesn’t first buy Onyx for even more.
With people living longer, long-term-care policies are suddenly more expensive … but you can work around them
BY KIMBERLY LANKFORD
By Kiplinger’s Personal Finance © 2013
Over the past few years, long-term-care insurance policies have become more restrictive and premiums have spiked. Generous benefits, such as lifetime payouts, are extraordinarily expensive or have disappeared from policy menus.
With the cost of long-term-care insurance soaring, many people are taking a new approach to covering the risk, by covering a portion of the anticipated expense and calculating how much they can pay from savings. Insurers are also offering more-affordable policies. For example, some are selling policies with benefits that rise with the consumer price index or provide 3-percent compound inflation protection, rather than 5-percent compound inflation protection, and such policies can cost thousands of dollars less per year.
Be sure to check the insurer’s home-care requirements. It’s better to buy a policy that doesn’t require you to use only licensed caregivers from an agency, who tend to cost more than informal caregivers. “If you’re in a nursing home, it doesn’t matter very much what company you use. But home care is where the rubber meets the road,” says Mike Ashley, of Senior Benefits Consultants, in Prairie Village, Kan.
Also, look at how the policy counts days of care toward the waiting period, which is often 60 or 90 days. Some policies start the clock as soon as your doctor certifies that you need help with two out of six activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing) or have cognitive impairment. Others count only the days that you receive care. Note that if you use less than your maximum daily benefit, you can extend the benefit period.
Premiums vary wildly, so it’s essential to comparison shop. To find agents who can offer quotes from several companies, visit American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance website, aaltci.org.