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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Vanda, Onconova, Catalyst Pharma, Sarepta

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The Biotech Stock Mailbag is back after a two-week hiatus. I wrote long this week, so grab a cup of Friday coffee and dig in. The prize for making it to the end of the Mailbag is some hellaciously good hate email and tweets.

To select the next test cases for the Feuerstein-Ratain Rule, I ran a screen using BioMedTracker for companies with cancer drugs in phase III studies expected to announce top-line results within the next six months.

Remember, the F-R Rule tries to predict the outcome of phase III studies of cancer drugs based on the market cap of the company conducting the study four months prior to the expected results.

Here's what I came up with:

Oncogenex Pharmaceuticals (OGXI): The "Synergy" study of custirsen in combination with docetaxel in first-line prostate cancer patients should have survival results ready in mid-2014. That timeline makes Oncogenex a bit early for assessment by the F-R Rule but keep it in mind.

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (MACK): The "Napoli 1" study of MM-398 in pancreatic cancer should have top-line results in the fourth quarter or first quarter next year. I put MM-398 through the F-R Rule buzzsaw in a previous Mailbag.

Onconova Therapeutics (ONTX - Get Report): The "OnTime" study of Estybon (rigosertib) in high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome will have results ready in the fourth quarter or first quarter 2014.

Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals (CYCC): An interim analysis of the sapacitabine "Seamless" study in acute myelogenous leukemia may take place in the first quarter 2014.

NewLink Genetics (NLNK): Timing is a bit fuzzy here but we could get data (interim? final?) from the "Impress" study of HyperAcute Pancreas in pancreatic cancer within the first six months of 2014.

A description of the Feuerstein-Ratain Rule can be found here. One note: Given the biotech bull market/bubble, particularly in small-cap stocks, the $300 million "dead zone" threshold -- 0% chance of study success -- probably needs to be expanded. By how much, I'm not sure. $400 million market cap? Does that sound right?

Okay, let's do the math. It's tough to nail down a narrow time frame for the rigosertib results but I'm going to use Jan. 1, 2014 since guidance from Onconova is fourth quarter 2013-first quarter 2014.

Four months back from Jan. 1, 2014 is Sept. 1, 2013, which puts Onconova's market cap at $520 million. That's nicely outside the historic F-R dead zone, which is encouraging for rigosertib's chances in the MDS trial.
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