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Sirtex Medical soars

Sirtex Medical (ASX: SRX) was one of the best performing stocks in the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) during the last financial year with its share price soaring from just over $6 to nearly $12, providing shareholders with a return of 97% for the 12 months.

Sirtex’s growing share price was in response to strong increases in sales of its SIR-Spheres, which are an innovative form of radiation therapy for treating liver cancer. Growing sales volumes look set to continue with today’s announcement that dose sales grew 13.1% in the fourth quarter. Sirtex has now had 36 consecutive quarters of dose sales growth!

Investing in the biotech sector is not for the fainthearted however, with last financial year seeing some previously high flying biotech shares fall significantly. Respiratory disease drug maker Pharmaxis’s  (ASX: PXS) share price plunged around 85% in response to regulatory issues, while promising diversified biotech Starpharma Holdings (ASX: SPL) lost over 30% as some investors became concerned by results from a Phase 2 trial.

Foolish takeaway

Investing in the biotech sector is rarely smooth sailing and many great ideas never make it to market. For those medicines that do, the returns for patient investors can be stellar, as Sirtex Medical proves.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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