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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Vivus

Stocks in this article: VVUS OREX CTIC CVM ADXS ALKS BCRX

Golferdahl41 has a beef: "I read with interest your comments on Oculus Innovative Sciences (OCLS). My experience with the product Microcyn is 1. It cured a leg infection on a friend of mine that was not responding to antibiotics. 2. It cured the leg and foot sores from diabetes on a lady who had amputation for the same problem on her other foot. 3. Cured the flesh-eating virus in the leg of another patient. I also checked with the company taking the veterinarian version to the public market and they say the reception and results are excellent. So, why do you continue to bash the company?"

I "bash" Oculus because because Microcyn's active ingredients are sodium hypochlorite (0.0036%) and hypochlorous acid (0.0025%), otherwise known as common household bleach and the chlorine used to keep swimming pools clean. That's it. Microcyn is a common disinfectant, widely available for pennies. Oculus has no data to support medical claims, no FDA drug approvals. Microcyn "cures" nothing.

Just because Oculus can put a common disinfectant in a spiffy bottle and sell it like a wonder drug doesn't make it one.


Craig L. asks, "Thanks for doing the Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) lorcaserin live blog. It was helpful and interesting. I am curious to hear more from you on Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) if you have time to address it. It seems baffling to me, but you are more knowledgeable than I about these drugs. I just don't understand the move."

Craig refers to the sharply higher move in Orexigen immediately following the FDA advisory panel's negative vote on Arena's obesity drug lorcaserin. Orexigen roughly went from $5 to $7 but has now given up about half that gain.

Baffling is a good way to describe the reaction. With Arena and Vivus knocked down by FDA advisory panels, I assume traders viewed Orexigen as the last obesity drug play standing. Couple that with a paucity of shares to short and the stock moved higher.

From a fundamental perspective, I see Orexigen having a rough go at its own FDA advisory panel scheduled for Dec. 7. Orexigen has only one year of Contrave weight-loss data to present to the panel and the data are riddled with questions about cardiovascular and other side effects. After Arena and Vivus, we know the regulatory bar for obesity drugs is set high. You can't rule out an Orexigen victory on Dec. 7, but I'd be surprised if that happened.

And yes, absolutely, I will be live-blogging the Orexigen FDA panel on Dec. 7. I've done two of these obesity drug death matches so far, so it's time for the trifecta.

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