Jordan asks about Pharmasset ( VRUS) and its experimental hepatitis C drug: "I have been following the Hepatitis C chase for a while now, and was wondering if you were impressed by Pharmasset's phase I results? You didn't mention it in your article and I was wondering why." The data from Pharmasset's hepatitis C drug, R7128, presented at last week's liver disease meeting was impressive. I should have discussed it earlier, my only excuse is that I was so focused on Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX - Get Report). Without going into too much detail here, a 14-day monotherapy trial of R7128 in hepatitis C patients who previously did not respond to standard therapy produced a strong reduction in viral load, with one patient even getting below the level of detection. (That's a good thing, for those not hip to Hep C lingo.)
Sigurd U. writes: "I think you take more heat than any writer I've ever read. (And I'm including news-from-the-front journalism.) Keep up the good work. I enjoy it. Them biotech waters are treacherous." Thanks a lot, Sig. The heat can be intense at times, but my skin is thick. I'm not doing my job well if I'm not ticking off somebody.
Speaking of heat, a note from Michael R.: "Adam, personally, I think you are committing career suicide with your continued bashing of Medarex ( MEDX). You have consitantly mistated
From Ernie R: "I've been a fan for years, and just wanted to say thanks. I only have a small amount of Discovery Labs ( DSCO). I had a much bigger investment, but got tired of waiting and delays. They still don't have anything to market, but any idea why they started their marketing department with several people so long ago (around 2000)? Even at best case, they were probably about two years out from actually having product. How much marketing is done in the years before a product comes to market? Bad management?" Discovery Labs and bad management go hand in hand, sadly. Ernie points out one reason why: The company was too aggressive in hiring a sales force to market Surfaxin, its drug to treat infants with respiratory distress syndrome. When Surfaxin was hit with multiple approval delays, the company was forced to fire all these people. In my Oct. 6 Mailbag, I said that Discovery was a stock to avoid until there was solid evidence of a turnaround. Earlier this month, the company did submit its FDA response to the Surfaxin approvable letter. The FDA should inform the company by the middle of the month if the response is accepted for review. This is a baby step in the right direction, so I still say watch and wait for more positive news.