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What Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine Progress Means for Pharmaceutical Stocks

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On Sept. 21, Johnson & Johnson began their Phase 3 trials for a COVID-19 vaccine named JNJ-78436735. While the company isn't the first to enter Phase 3, they are conducting the largest trial. The trial has 60,000 volunteer participants. Naturally, their stock price and competitors' stock prices are on the move.

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Johnson & Johnson stock price update

When the market opened on Wednesday, Sept. 23 on the NYSE, Johnson & Johnson was up 2.2 percent. It's easy to trace the rise right back to the fresh news about the company's Phase 3 trial launch. At the start of the day, the price per share was at $147.75, up from $144.21 from the previous close thanks to a number of pre-market trades. Since then, the stock has dipped back down but remains above the value on Sept. 22.  

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Johnson & Johnson has yet to exceed its most recent high of $149.27 on Sept. 18 or even higher reaches earlier in the month. It's possible that the spread of the news will continue to boost the company's share prices.

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It's worth noting that at $384.29 billion, Johnson & Johnson's market cap is one of the highest in the world. 

Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer stock prices are changing too

Johnson & Johnson's primary competitors for a COVID-19 vaccine are Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer. 

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AstraZeneca may not be in competition for long. Their vaccine trials have been paused in the U.S. due to safety concerns. Regardless, the stock increased from $55.29 per share at the market open on Sept. 22 to $56.21 at the market open on Sept. 23 on the NYSE.

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Despite fluctuations, Moderna stock has been pretty consistent in recent days. Their $67.99 share price on Sept. 23 at the Nasdaq market open is lower than the previous day's peak. However, the stock has increased since the market opened. 

Pfizer started Sept. 23 off on the NYSE at $36.27 per share, up from the previous day but a drop from earlier in the week. 

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Johnson & Johnson spearheads a pivotal moment in vaccine progress

In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has been the subject of many lawsuits. They paid billions of dollars in compensation and punitive damages to thousands of plaintiffs. According to the courts, the company knowingly distributed asbestos-ridden baby powder, which resulted in a number of women developing cancer. At the time, their stock prices fell and they were even under investigation by the SEC and the Department of Justice. 

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In what some may consider a resolution of wrongdoing, Johnson & Johnson is marching steadfastly forth with a COVID-19 vaccine for a virus that's already affected millions.

So, what makes this vaccine different from others in research? For one, it's a one-shot model (compared to multi-dose variants from Johnson & Johnson's competitors. It's also stable in refrigerated temperatures and doesn't require sub-zero storage like the competition. With the company's 60,000 volunteers, they expect to have the results of the Phase 3 study by the end of 2020. 

In the meantime, investors with pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson—as well as their vaccine-researching competitors—in their portfolio may want to keep an eye on those fluctuations.  

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