This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
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
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

Biotech Stock Mailbag: Keryx, Sangamo, Threshold and Amarin

Lisa H. asks: "What is your outlook for Threshold Pharmaceuticals (THLD - Get Report) in pancreatic cancer now that Celgene (CELG - Get Report) has underwhelmed with Abraxane results? I think this is good for Threshold. Do you agree? Appreciate your response."

Celgene left the door open for a competing pancreatic cancer drug or regimen, so that's a plus for Threshold. Were the Abraxane data underwhelming? I don't think that's necessarily true.

As reported Tuesday, Abraxane plus gemcitabine yielded a median overall survival of 8.5 months compared to 6.7 months for gemcitabine alone -- a 1.8-month or 8-week survival benefit that was highly statistically significant. The result was either in line or on the low end of expectations, depending on whom you talk to.

Median overall survival is easy to understand, but it's not the best way to measure a cancer drug's overall efficacy. Median means middle, so with median overall survival, you're getting a snapshot from a small slice of patients enrolled in the study.

Better to look at the study's hazard ratio, which compares the benefit of an experimental drug to its control over the entire trial. A hazard ratio of 1 in a survival trial means no benefit for a drug over its control. Overall survival is the same. What you're looking for is a hazard ratio less than 1, with a smaller hazard ratio equating to a larger survival benefit.

The overall survival hazard ratio in Celgene's Abraxane pancreatic cancer trial is 0.72. There's nothing underwhelming about that result. Interpreted another way, you can say Abraxane reduced the risk of death by 28% compared to control.

The Abraxane hazard ratio for overall survival is not as strong as the 0.57 hazard ratio observed in the FOLFIRINOX study. At the median, FOLFIRINOX boosted overall survival by four months over gemcitabine. However, FOLFIRINOX -- a cocktail of four chemotherapy drugs -- is much more toxic and harder for pancreatic patients to tolerate.

Getting back to Threshold. Recall, in the phase II study reported last year, the high dose of TH-302 plus gemcitabine yielded a median overall survival of 9.2 months compared to 6.9 months for gemcitabine alone -- a difference of 2.3 months. Looks good relative to Abraxane.

But the overall survival hazard ratio for TH-302 was just 0.95 -- not robust at all.

4 of 5

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
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

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
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AMRN $1.67 0.00%
AEZS $0.79 0.00%
CELG $120.71 0.00%
KERX $13.19 0.00%
SGMO $18.06 0.00%

Markets

DOW 18,135.72 +38.82 0.21%
S&P 500 2,101.04 +2.51 0.12%
NASDAQ 4,982.8090 +15.6680 0.32%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs