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TheStreet Open House

Biotech Stock Mailbag: Dendreon's Aftermath

Regardless, NuPathe had lousy luck since it timed the announcement of the financing with Wednesday's volatile stock market action. NuPathe fell 25% Wednesday and another 15% Thursday. I wonder how Aspire feels about those $7.07 shares now?

NuPathe is waiting word from the FDA on an approval decision for its Zelrix migraine headache patch. That announcement from FDA is expected on Aug. 29. I wrote about Zelrix in a previous Mailbag.


Back to Dendreon, Martine P. asks, "Is this a buying opportunity in Dendreon the way it was back when FDA rejected Provenge in 2007?"

Provocative question! I don't have the guts to give you a direct answer, but I will point out that Dendreon opened Thursday at $12.71, and as I type this, the stock looks like it will close around $11.94. That's not a good sign, even on a terrible, horrible, miserable day for stocks like Thursday.

I laid out most of the issues pertaining to Dendreon and Provenge in my Thursday column, but here are a few more thoughts:

As much as Dendreon insists that it's dealing with a reimbursement issue, I'd hazard to say that a majority of investors believe slacking demand for Provenge is as big a problem, if not more so. It should really worry you when you hear Dendreon say that doctors aren't identifying enough Provenge-eligible patients. That either means Dendreon's sales team is incompetent (not good) or doctors don't believe in Provenge enough to bother screening patients (really not good.)

Assuming the "cost density" of Provenge is a problem, how will getting doctors more comfortable with reimbursement make this issue go away? Even if a doctor knows that he can reimbursed quickly, he still has to lay out $93,000 for every patient he puts on Provenge. ISI Group biotech analyst Mark Schoenebaum thinks Dendreon needs to consider cutting Provenge's price (not likely) or coming up with a way to offer doctors more generous payment terms. Whether the latter solution helps solve this cash-flow problem is not clear, he adds.

Dendreon failed its first major test in the "non-supply constrained" Provenge era, and Wall Street is not likely to be in a forgiving mood for a very long time. Management credibility -- zero. That's not to say investors aren’t responsible for their own mistakes, just that it's hard to regain trust when you've lost it.

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