Yet Geron, stubbornly, refuses to die. The latest -- and perhaps last -- comeback attempt has the company betting it all on imetelstat in myelofibrosis. The Mayo Clinic is running a small, early-stage study and recently informed Geron that at least two responses to imetelstat were reported in two different dosing cohorts of 11 patients each. A third cohort of patients is now enrolling in the study. [The principal investigator of the imetelstat study is Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, which will make investors who pay close attention to myelofibrosis drug development either cheer or jeer. He's a polarizing guy.]
Tefferi will be presenting these interim imetelstat data at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in early December. Geron has already told investors that it will likely start its own multi-center study of imetelstat in myelofibrosis, based on what it believes are promising results from the Mayo study.
I'd caution to wait until we see these Tefferi imetelstat data at ASH before reaching any conclusions about Geron's viability.
But remember what I said above about investors wanting to own biotech stocks regardless of the risks involved? Well, imetelstat hasn't been declared dead yet officially, which explains why Geron's chart looks like this for the past three months:
GERN data by YCharts
$NPSP~ Hey @adamfeuerstein great call on this one. Because of your insight, i sold 10k shares @ $11/shr. Thks!!!— Jeff Jorgenson (@jjjorgen) September 25, 2013You're right, the concerns I raised about insurers pushing back on NPS Pharmaceuticals (NPSP) due to the high cost of Gattex were wrong. NPS has done very well with the Gattex launch and the stock has reacted accordingly: NPSP data by YCharts
I still believe the risk of insurers putting more reimbursement restrictions on high-priced orphan drugs exists, but I admit evidence of a clampdown to date is scant and I was clearly wrong about NPS Pharma. To their credit, my colleagues at TheStreet Jim Cramer and David Peltier have both been enthusiastic supporters of NPS this year. -- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. Follow Adam Feuerstein on Twitter.
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