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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Derma Sciences

In the intent-to-treat analysis, 54% of diabetic wounds treated with the high dose of DSC127 reached 100% closure compared to 33% of patients treated with the placebo gel. The study was not powered for statistically significance, although Derma expected a 15% improvement in wound healing with the high dose of DSC127 compared to placebo. The actual 21% improvement was better than expected. [The wound-healing rate for low-dose DSC127 was 30%, below that of the placebo.]

Derma didn't provide much detail on safety other than to say the drug was well tolerated and that no significant adverse events were reported. The company expects to report further data from the DSC127 study in the second quarter.

A drug that effectively closes and heals diabetic foot ulcers can probably bring in about $200 million to $300 million a year in sales.

Vince M. asks, "I'm surprised you haven't written about Radient Pharmaceuticals (RPC) since its big move in December. What are your thoughts about Radient's cancer test? The stock has fallen back and looks more attractive at these levels, especially if the company can make millions of dollars from India."

I'm late to the Radient story not for lack of interest but because I've been waiting almost a month to schedule an interview with Radient CEO Doug MacLellan to discuss the company's Onko-Sure cancer screen. MacLellan canceled one interview with me. I tried to reschedule several times through Radient's media person with no luck, so I'll move ahead.

Radient is investing a lot of money into investor and media relations, which helps explain the mini stock-price bubble. Press releases are flying out the company's door filled with announcements about international distribution deals for the Onko-Sure cancer test. At the same time, MacLellan is granting interviews with a biotech stock promotions Web site claiming Onko-Sure is on the cusp of generating millions of dollars in revenue.

A fine line exists between optimism and delusion, and I'm afraid MacLellan might be on the wrong side of the divide. Past performance isn't necessarily an indicator of future results, but in Radient's case, it's a damn good proxy.

Onko-Sure sales for the first nine months of 2010 totaled $116,000, a 15% decrease from sales in the first nine months of 2009. Radient's loss from operations through the end of September 2010 was $6.7 million; add in losses from discontinued operations and business units Radient is trying to sell, and the total net loss was $38.4 million.
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