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A Breakthrough For Diabetics


Inside Wall Street

A BREAKTHROUGH FOR DIABETICS

MiniMed (MNMD) is a minicap stock trading below its July initial public offering price of 13. But analyst Sam Navarro of UBS Securities thinks MiniMed will be a home run: "Its implantable insulin pump, plus the sensor it's developing to monitor blood glucose, will open up a huge world market," he says. Navarro insists the stock will double from its current 11 within a year. In two years, he says, MiniMed "will most likely be acquired by a large medical-equipment company, such as Medtronics."

What's more, he argues, "nobody else has an implantable pump for insulin, so MiniMed will be in high demand." MiniMed will seek Food & Drug Administration approval next year. The pump, inserted beneath the skin of the abdomen, administers a dose set by the diabetic.

MiniMed CEO Al Mann says clinical studies show that dosage through a pump, as opposed to injections, reduces long-term diabetes complications: nerve damage, kidney disease, or blindness. The implant holds a three-month insulin supply. MiniMed's sensor lets diabetics read glucose levels without drawing blood. The sensor has an alarm to warn patients of dangerous glucose levels. Mann says the pump is now sold only in France, where he expects sales of $4 million next year.

To market the device, Mann aims for a European alliance. "We are holding all sorts of talks, including merger possibilities," says Mann--but he didn't elaborate. MiniMed already has a link with Germany's Hoechst, which is making fast-acting insulin for pump use.

Navarro sees MiniMed selling 7,500 pumps in 1995, and 8,500 to 9,000 in 1996. He figures MiniMed will earn 26 cents a share this year and 35 cents next.BY GENE G. MARCIAL


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