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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Genta Takes Another Stab

Onward. Thomas L. writes, "Hi Adam, I know you don't have time to comment on every email you get, but I was wondering if you could comment on Osiris Therapeutics (OSIR) and their diabetes cure."

Thomas sent along a link to a story in a U.K. publication about research with Osiris' stem-cell drug Prochymal in patients with Type 1 diabetes.

My comment: Don't believe the hype. The dismal failure of Prochymal in two studies of patients with graft-vs.-host disease, coupled with the previous setbacks in Crohn's disease and knee cartilage repair, are more than enough to send Prochymal to the drug development graveyard.

Osiris is a zombie stock -- dead but acting as if it's still alive.

That last line also answers Zach P.'s email. He asked, "Any thoughts on why Osiris isn't sitting closer to cash levels given the placebo-like results for Prochymal."

Osiris equals the living dead.

Rick K. emails with a question about this week's obesity drug data from Vivus (VVUS).

"Qnexa is simply phentermine and topamax, both available today. So why wait for or use Qnexa?"

Rick's question is a good one and highlights one of the commercial concerns raised about Qnexa. Generic phentermine is widely prescribed as a weight-loss drug today, so what stops doctors from adding a prescription for generic topirimate, instead of reaching for branded Qnexa?

Vivus responds by stating that the dosages of phentermine and topiramate used in Qnexa are not available generically. The patented formulation of the two drugs into Qnexa -- delayed-release topirimate and immediate-release phentermine -- also plays a role in the drug's efficacy, according to Vivus.

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