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Feuerstein's Biotech-Stock Mailbag: Elan

Moving on. It was also a great week because Vanda Pharmaceuticals (VNDA) received a non-approvable letter for its schizophrenia drug Fanapta -- another prediction of mine in the win column.

The Vanda news prompted Steve P. to write:

"The world, as we know, is coming to an end if a straightforward rational assessment of clinical trial data actually results in a logical, predictable response by the FDA. Congrats -- I am just amazed that there seems to be so much surprise by those who ought to know better."

I couldn't agree more, and I love Steve's snark. There are people out there doing the real work who get stuff like predicting the Food and Drug Administration's takedown of Vanda correct. I'm fortunate to know one of those guys because he makes me look smarter than I am.

Go back to my January column on Vanda. My source, a hedge fund analyst, said that FDA would issue a non-approvable letter based on his analysis of the company's clinical trial data. He nailed it cold.

Lastly, an email from David K., who asks: "Who is the best CEO in the pharmaceutical industry?"

I don't follow Big Pharma all that closely, so I hope David doesn't mind if I tweak his question towards biotech CEOs.

Genentech's (DNA) Art Levinson has to be in the top tier, as does Gilead Sciences' (GILD) John Martin. Myriad Genetics (MYGN) isn't a pure biotech, but the way CEO Peter Meldrum managed to get $100 million from Lundbeck for a failed Alzheimer's drug that actually pushed his stock higher puts him in the genius category. BioMarin's (BMRN) J.J. Bienaime has done a marvelous job turning around that company into one of the best-performing mid-cap stocks in the sector.

This isn't an exhaustive list, so let me turn the question around to all of you. Send me your pick for the best CEO in biotech. At the end of the year, I'll pick a winner and we'll celebrate his (or her) greatness right here.

And remember, I'm still seeking nominations for worst biotech CEO of the year. Elan's Martin appears to be making a strong run now, but who else do you think deserves the ignominy?

In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for a brand new product from Adam Feuerstein and! Should you wish to hear more about this special invitation and how you can take advantage of some exciting pre-launch offers please email.

Has the stock market bottomed?


Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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