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Telik Fails Ethics Test

There were no apologies, no statements of regret from Telik (TELK) management on Wednesday night's quarterly conference call.

That's not necessarily surprising, but it is disappointing. After all, Telik CEO Michael Wick and Chief Medical Officer Gail Brown (who's also Wick's wife) are involved in one of the most serious ethical breaches of clinical trial research that I've ever come across in biotech.

In June, Telik disclosed the results of two phase III clinical trials in which patients given the company's experimental cancer drug Telcyta actually died faster than similar patients in the studies' control arms.

Telcyta was supposed to benefit these cancer patients; instead, desperate cancer patients died quicker than they should have.

Wick, Brown and the rest of Telik's management team knew the disastrous results of the Telcyta clinical trials back in December 2006 -- five months before it was disclosed publicly -- yet they made the decision to keep the information secret.

Telik didn't warn patients in other ongoing Telcyta studies, the company didn't tell the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the deaths; it didn't tell investors or anyone else outside the company.

The FDA has put a hold on further Telcyta clinical trials and the agency is investigating Telik over its failure to disclose the patient deaths to the agency in a timely manner.

With all this hanging over the heads of Wick and Brown, you'd think they'd say something on Wednesday night's conference call -- the first time since June that Telik management has spoken publicly.
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