BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The Biotech Stock Mailbag went AWOL last week. My apologies. I'm back and kicking off this week's Mailbag with an email from EK Watt on Immunomedics (IMMU) and its experimental lupus drug.
EK asks, "Can Immunomedics be the competitive killer in lupus to Human Genome Sciences' (HGSI) Benlysta?"
Human Genome's Benlysta has about a three-year head start on Immunomedics' epratuzumab (e-mab, for short), so EK's question is difficult to answer. Data from a phase II study of e-mab in lupus patients will be presented at a European rheumatology conference on June 19. The Belgian drug firm UCB is running the e-mab lupus program under a license from Immunomedics.
The research abstract for the e-mab phase II lupus study was made available online Wednesday night. Lupus patients treated with 2,400 mg of e-mab reported a 43% response rate compared with a 21% response rate for patients treated with placebo. Response was measured after 12 weeks of treatment. E-mab doses of 200 mg, 800 mg and 3,600 mg also were studied.Here are two views of the data contained in the abstract, first from a health care fund manager who is long Immunomedics. (His firm's compliance rules bar him from speaking publicly.) "The data look pretty good and interesting with three caveats -- the highest dose was dead negative, did nothing, not even a trend. Also, the statistics are post-hoc (UCB never had a statistical analysis plan since this study was dose-ranging). The original press release
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