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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Sarepta, Acadia, Vical and a Hep C Preview

Stocks in this article: SRPT ACAD VICL GILD ABT

@themicrokid tweets, "Be nice if $SRPT gave us some insight as to when they might share some 62-week data that was taken a couple weeks ago."

Agreed. I rank more data from the eteplirsen phase IIb study as the second-most significant catalyst looming for Sarepta. Eteplirsen doubters probably rank this first, understandably.

On the call Wednesday night, Sarepta said additional assessments of DMD patients in the eteplirsen trial are being conducted at 62 weeks and 74 weeks, but the company didn't offer a timeline for when these data would be released. Just like what we saw with the 48-week data in October, stabilization of disease progression (or better yet) improvement would make the case for early approval even stronger -- if not a slam dunk.

@Hachidi asks, "How come $SRPT tapping ATM before data is good, but for $ACAD is a red flag?"

I was rebuked by a bunch of readers for my column raising a red flag on Acadia Pharmaceuticals' (ACAD) decision to sell stock through its At-the-Market (ATM) equity facility ahead of announcing results from the pimavanserin phase III study. It's true, Sarepta also sold stock through an ATM agreement prior to releasing eteplirsen data, and yes, I didn't raise a ruckus about it, so why is Acadia different?

Point taken and appreciated. In my defense, I'll say that among institutional investors there was ample discussion -- and some degree of consternation -- about Sarepta's ATM and whether management would use it before the eteplirsen data came out. I was also more confident in eteplirsen than I am with pimavanserin currently. I have my doubts about the upcoming Parkinson's psychosis trial based on the previous trial data but I'm also more than happy to be persuaded otherwise if the new results come back positive.

The opacity of ATMs is what I primarily object to. Shareholders have no way of knowing if or when management is selling stock until well after the fact. I prefer traditional stock offerings for their relative transparency, even though I understand that ATMs carry certain fiscal advantages.

While on the subject, Vical (VICL) entered into a $50 million ATM facility on Wednesday. The disclosure was made in an SEC filing yet Vical said nothing about the ATM in its third-quarter earnings release or during the conference call held the same day.

No transparency! You see what I mean with these ATMs?

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