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TheStreet Open House

Biotech Stock Mailbag: Mela, Osiris, Talon

Stock quotes in this article: MELA, OSIR, TLON, VRTX, AMRN, IDIX

Three chances at making the right diagnosis, MelaFind whiffs each time. Incredibly, despite the machine's 100% error rate, this New York dermatologist remained a stalwart believer. The investor asked her why she planned on using MelaFind on her patients if the results were so inaccurate. After some hemming and hawing, the doctor finally admitted that her patients are wealthy and can afford the out-of-pocket expense. In total, the doctor said she hoped to clear $40,000 to $50,000 in extra income from MelaFind, on top of the money she makes from performing biopsies.

Mela could do well with MelaFind if all dermatologists are equally greedy. Unfortunately for Mela, not all dermatologists have wealthy New York clients.

Joseph writes: "Osiris Therapeutics (OSIR) generated a whopping $1.6 million in revenue in the second quarter. The company even had the audacity to include the following statement in its press release: 'In the largest study of allogeneic or 'off-the-shelf' stem cells ever conducted in heart-attack patients, reported interim one-year results showing that treatment with Prochymal resulted in a statistically significant reduction in heart failure in patients experiencing first-time acute myocardial infarction.' "

I sense Joseph is egging me on to dish more dirt on Osiris. OK, I'll bite. I found another example of bamboozlement and misleading statements made by Osiris' CEO, Randy Mills.

Randy, you need a fact checker on staff, full time!

The latest episode involving Mills' penchant for telling half-truths occurred during his presentation at the JMP Securities Healthcare Conference on July 13. Mills was discussing Grafix, a stem-cell-soaked bandage that Osiris has been trying to market as a wound-healing cure with little success, as witnessed by the paltry $1.6 million in second-quarter sales.

Naturally, Mills described Grafix in far more glowing terms during his investor chat. Grafix is so effective as a wound-healing agent, Mills insisted, that doctors are pushing Osiris to find new uses for it.

"It was not a long walk for physicians to start figuring out that Grafix could be used for other things, specifically in the diabetic foot ulcer and limb salvage space," Mills told investors at the JMP Securities conference, according to a recording of his presentation. "So we did a pilot trial where we showed -- I think it was a 60-patient trial -- it showed that we have a 70% closure rate in recalcitrant DFU."

Any therapy that can induce a 70% closure rate in hard-to-treat diabetic foot ulcers would be very promising indeed. Unfortunately, I looked hard to find any evidence or mention of this 60-patient pilot study of Grafix in diabetic foot ulcer patients but came up empty.

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