Welcome back to the Biotech Mailbag, where I answer your questions and hold myself accountable to your scrutiny. I love getting mail, so please
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Before I get to your mail, a lot of readers have requested a biotech event calendar. I put one together this week, so make sure you check it out
Jason from Seattle (Is he sleepless, too?) writes in about
. "I see that they have priority review. The large short position could be a huge catalyst if we hear more positive news when the FDA panel meets to discuss Provenge. What has your research discovered about Dendreon?"
Dendreon is really shaping up to be one of the best biotech stories of the year. All of the elements are there: a first-in-class drug (in this case, Provenge, a cancer vaccine); a controversial clinical data package that includes a survival benefit, albeit one with some statistical noise around it; a looming FDA advisory panel meeting (now set for March 29); a stock at $4 that could rip or roll over depending on the outcome of that meeting; and as Jason notes, a big short interest -- 20 million shares on a 71-million-share float.
The details of the Provenge story really deserve a separate column (or two or three), so I'll get cracking on that. I have followed the drug for a long time, so here's my quick take: The four-and-a-half-month survival benefit seen in advanced prostate cancer patients given the Provenge vaccine compared to placebo is intriguing, to say the least. There have been many efforts to debunk the data, without much luck.