This Day On The Street
Continue to site
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

Peregrine Pharma's Lung Cancer Drug: Boffo Survival Benefit, But How Real?

TUSTIN, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- The results presented Friday on Peregrine Pharmaceuticals' (PPHM - Get Report) lung cancer drug bavituximab -- a jaw-dropping doubling of survival compared to a control arm -- were spectacular. But are the data from the midstage study credible?

Every cell in my body screams, "No!!!" The idea that Peregrine, a dismissed biotech penny stock as recently as two months ago, might be sitting on one of the most effective lung cancer drugs ever developed, doesn't just strain credulity, it beats credulity to death with a baseball bat.

Still, Peregrine's bavituximab lung cancer data look awesome. Second-line nonsmall-cell lung cancer patients treated with a combination of bavituximab and docetaxel reported a median overall survival of 12.1 months compared to 5.6 months for patients treated with docetaxel and a placebo.

That's a six-month improvement in survival or a statistically significant, 50% reduction in the risk of death. Cancer drugs that double survival or halve the risk of death are rare. They don't exist in lung cancer. Avastin, Roche's (RHHBY) $7 billion-per-year cancer uber-drug, improves first-line lung cancer survival by two months.

Peregrine may well have a blockbuster lung cancer drug on its hands. The possibility can't be denied outright. But as a die-hard biotech skeptic, I'm not going to be fully convinced until Peregrine produces a lot more answers. Neither should you.

I want to see data that parse bavituximab's response rate and overall survival by geography. The phase II study enrolled half of its 117 patients in Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia and India -- geographies with a reputation for producing overly positive results that cannot be reproduced in later, larger confirmatory trials.

The remaining 50% of patients came from the U.S. Not to sound xenophobic, but data culled from U.S.-based centers carry more weight and are less likely to be biased.

Survival is a hard endpoint to fudge -- a patient is either dead or they're not -- so fabricating survival results isn't the biggest concern. I'm more worried about Eastern European or Indian doctors enrolling lung cancer patients who haven't yet truly failed first-line therapy and therefore shouldn't be eligible for the second-line bavituximab study. Peregrine's study is small enough that a handful of relatively healthy patients living longer could have skewed survival results.
1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

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
Stocks Under $10

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

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

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
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
CTIC $1.56 -1.90%
BMY $60.15 -2.90%
DNDN $0.06 -6.02%
MDVN $41.35 -5.30%
PPHM $1.05 -2.80%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,814.74 +38.31 0.23%
S&P 500 1,980.46 -6.59 -0.33%
NASDAQ 4,746.9670 -34.2970 -0.72%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs