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

Celsion's Shameless Spin Job (Update)

Updated with new information.

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ ( TheStreet) -- Celsion (CLSN - Get Report) is so disappointing.

Here I thought Celsion was doing the honorable thing by making no excuses for the failure of its Thermodox liver cancer therapy. Last January, CEO Michael Tardugno told investors, straight up, that data from the Thermodox phase III study weren't close to being strong enough to support approval filings in the U.S. or Europe. He didn't offer any spin, he didn't try to data-mine results seeking a desperate glimmer of hope. Thermodox failed and that was that.

All that goodwill was thrown away Tuesday. Celsion now says a "post analysis" of the failed phase III study shows Thermodox did shrink liver tumors in a subgroup of patients who underwent radio-frequency ablation (RFA) for at least 45 minutes. [Pity the poor patients who only had their liver tumors cooked for 44 minutes, apparently.]

This is not just ordinary data-mining. This is data-mining so deep and ridiculous that Celsion may need to list itself on the Shanghai stock exchange.

"We have completed a thorough review of the HEAT Study and there is clear evidence that ThermoDox can benefit patients when RFA is optimized," said Celsion's chief medical officer Nicholas Borys, in a statement. Too bad the press release didn't come with a laugh track attached.

The graph below, which comes directly from a previous Celsion presentation of Thermodox clinical data, explains why the "45 minute RFA" subgroup analysis is a complete farce. Credit for finding this slide goes to biotech investor David Sobek of Sobek Analytics. You can and should follow Sobek on Twiter at @dsobek.

What you're looking at is the pharmacokinetics of Thermodox. In other words, how much Thermodox (i.e. doxorubicin) gets into a patient's bloodstream following RFA treatment. What you see, clearly, from the graph is patients get the vast majority of Thermodox in the first 45 minutes of RFA treatment. If this is true, then extending RFA treatment beyond 45 minutes is futile and Celsion's spin-job is ludicrous.

Of course, we all know what's going on here. Celsion executives are staring at the end of their careers, so they're desperate to prevent the compensation spigot from being turned off. Celsion has $46 million dollars left to spend, so better that money be funneled into the bank accounts of Tardugno and his crew instead of being returned to shareholders or creditors.

Celsion fired one-third of its workforce today, thereby reducing overhead even further and preserving more money for executive salaries.

Even better if Celsion can actually fool new investors into providing more funding. If that happens, the Thermodox charade might be extended indefinitely. Hell, Tardugno might even convince his sycophantic board of directors to pay him a cushy bonus.

I hoped Celsion would be different. Instead, the actions of its executives are just shameless.

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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
CLSN $1.48 0.00%
AAPL $93.74 0.00%
FB $117.58 0.00%
GOOG $693.01 0.00%
TSLA $240.76 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs