This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Biotech Stock Mailbag: Orexigen Therapeutics

As enrollment in the Multikine study drags on for the next few years, I'd also watch out for any changes made to the study design or efforts to lower the number of patients enrolled. Stuff like that can be tracked easily at ClinicalTrials.gov.


Sticking with the obesity drug theme, Mark M. emails a question regarding Vivus (VVUS):

"I appreciate your balanced and unemotional reporting of Qnexa and other weight-loss drugs as they attempt to gain FDA approval. Other than your articles, there seems to be a significant amount of bias in most of the reporting on weight-loss drug developments, maybe a reflection of positions held. In the case of Qnexa, I do not really understand how the FDA can question the safety of low-dose topiramate when they have already approved its use in other higher dose applications. Perhaps you can address this issue in a future article."

It's a great question. The thing to keep in mind is that the risk-benefit of any drug depends largely on the disease being treated and the patient population who will take the drug.

Let's start with an easy example. Cancer drugs, generally, cause significant side effects. That makes sense because a lot of chemotherapy drugs, for instance, are basically poison designed to kill tumor cells. Healthy cells are often collateral damage, too. Doctors, patients and the FDA are okay with the high toxicity of cancer drugs because they're used to treat patients with cancer, a fatal disease that is usually (not always) worse than whatever toxicity or side effects the treatment may cause.

If chemotherapy drugs were used to treat a less serious and non-fatal disease like psoriasis, the risk-benefit trade off would be unacceptable to everyone. Psoriasis can be a nasty disease, but patients aren't going to die from it. Moreover, psoriasis is a chronic disease, meaning patients require long-term treatment. If they stop taking whatever drug they're using to keep the psoriasis at bay, the disease will return. Again, chemo drugs would never be acceptable to treat psoriasis even if the efficacy was fantastic because the cumulative toxicity of long-term exposure would likely kill patients.

3 of 6

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,279.74 +13.75 0.08%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,579.7890 -13.6380 -0.30%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs