PHILADELPHIA ( TheStreet) --Three years after being rejected by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Hemispherx Biopharma (HEB) is back seeking regulatory approval for Ampligen, its controversial therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Everyone loves a comeback story with a happy ending, but Hemispherx's second attempt won't turn out any happier than the first. FDA is likely to reject Ampligen again because Hemispherx ignored the agency's demand to run a new clinical trial in chronic fatigue syndrome.
Instead, Hemipsherx has spent the past three years doing essentially nothing but re-analyzing data from the old Ampligen phase III trial completed in 2004. FDA reviewed the original study already, deeming it "lacking credible evidence of efficacy of Ampligen."
It would be highly unusual -- unprecedented, even -- for FDA to reverse itself and find a retrospective rehash of old Ampligen data more compelling this time around. FDA has been facing political pressure to speed new drugs to market, particularly for diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome with no current treatments. But this hardly means FDA is going to throw out its drug-review rulebook.FDA has scheduled an advisory panel for Dec. 20 to review Hemispherx's Ampligen resubmission. The agency is expected to issue a final approval decision on or before Feb. 2, 2013. Ampligen's long odds haven't deterred speculators from bidding up Hemispherx's stock price, just like they did in 2009. At Wednesday's close of 90 cents, Hemispherx shares are up more than 220% since July 11 when the company announced plans to resubmit Ampligen for FDA approval. For those that don't remember, the phase III study enrolled 234 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, randomized to treatment with Ampligen or a placebo. The study's primary endpoint was improvement in treadmill exercise tolerance at week 40. Hemispherx announced positive results from the Ampligen study in May 2004, claiming that Ampligen patients demonstrated a 17.4% improvement in treadmill exercise tolerance compared to a 4.3% improvement for placebo patients -- a net difference of 13.1%. The result was statistically significant with a p value of 0.047. However, in May 2006, results from this same study were presented at a medical meeting showing a 12.9% difference in treadmill exercise performance between Ampligen and placebo that was not statistically significant.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
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.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
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.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV