It's Friday, which means it's time for the Biotech Mailbag.

Travis T. wasn't happy with Wednesday night's article on Sequenom ( SQNM) and the company's prenatal genetic test for Down syndrome. He particularly hated the headline, " Sequenom Very Good, Just No Longer Perfect":

"I didn't like your article on Sequenom. It was not in line with other articles that were all upbeat and positive. The data was basically perfect and you didn't give credit to that until late in the article. You didn't serve the shareholders fairly. I doubt Jim Cramer would approve of this either. I would suggest you re-title it. The test is as accurate as anything on the market, including amniocentesis, except it's non-invasive. What more are you looking for?"

I don't coordinate my article and columns to ensure that they're in accordance with my competitors.

I don't write articles and columns to serve shareholders.

I really liked the headline to my Sequenom story because it summed up the news precisely. Sequenom is using some very interesting prenatal genetics technology to develop what could be an effective and widely used screening tool for Down syndrome. But this nascent test is not perfect, which is certainly what many hoped for and expected.

And I didn't write the headline, anyway. That's the responsibility of my editor, so he gets the credit.

As for Sequenom, don't get the mistaken impression that I'm some raging bear. I think the Down syndrome test works. I do wonder how well it works in the real world. The data we have seen so far are well controlled by the company. The results we see from the independent studies currently under way will be key. And there's still a debate worth having about the commercial potential and the regulatory environment for the test.

Just because you don't see me stamping on a table for Sequenom a la Peter Kolchinsky of RA Capital doesn't mean I dislike the company or the stock.


It seemed like everyone in the financial press had something to say about Pfizer's ( PFE - Get Report) acquisition of Wyeth ( WYE) this week, myself included, which prompted this email from Patrick D:

"If Pfizer is eying bapineuzumab as a key asset in its $60-70 billion dollar acquisition of Wyeth, doesn't that give you concern that your analysis of the Elan ( ELN) phase II bapineuzumab data is wrong. If Pfizer has looked carefully at the data and thinks it supports a $60-70 billion dollar investment, you don't think perhaps you missed something?"

As I wrote in the article, Pfizer is making a big bet on Alzheimer's disease research, but that's a different proposition from making a big bet on bapineuzumab. If Pfizer had wanted to do that, it could have bought Elan. Pfizer didn't buy Elan, it's buying Wyeth -- and for many reasons that have nothing to do with bapineuzumab.

I'm not privy to Pfizer's strategy or thinking on bapineuzumab, but if I had to guess, I'd say that the company sees maintaining the financial commitment already made by Wyeth in the drug as a prudent business decision and one that doesn't cost much in the context of the entire Wyeth deal since the phase III studies are already under way.

If bapineuzumab succeeds, Pfizer looks genius; if the drug doesn't succeed, the incremental money spent isn't going to break the company's bank and it still has a deep pipeline of earlier-stage Alzheimer's drugs as a fallback. And yes, I still believe the latter scenario is more likely.

And let's not forget that when Pfizer went looking for a late-stage Alzheimer's drug, it shook hands with Medivation ( MDVN) first -- not Wyeth, not Elan. That deal tells you 250 million things about where Pfizer is leaning when it comes to potential blockbuster Alzheimer's drugs.


Bob F. writes:
"Can you comment on what is happening right now with Cypress BioScience ( CYPB)? After an initial pop on the stock with the approval of Savella, it seems to be stuck around the $9 range. Everything I have read tells me that the underlying value should be much higher ($12- $15 a share), but it seems to be going nowhere."

Cypress BioScience and its partner Forest Labs ( FRX) received FDA approval for Savella as a treatment for fibromyalgia on Jan. 14. The approval, which came a bit earlier than expected, lifted Cypress shares from $7 to over $9. Since then, the stock has drifted back down to the mid-$8 range.

With the caveat that I haven't followed Cypress and Savella that closely, my sense is that investors are treating Cypress with the same show-me attitude they leveled on CV Therapeutics ( CVTX) last November after the FDA granted CV Therapeutics an expanded label for Ranexa, the company's chronic angina drug.

Fibromyalgia is a difficult disease to diagnose and manage. Savella has the potential to do quite well commercially, but I think investors want to see results first before they start believing. How will doctors handle the dose titration requirements for Savella? Will docs use Eli Lilly's ( LLY) Cymbalta and Pfizer's Lyrica first before prescribing Savella? How will Savella's safety profile, especially the need for cardiac monitoring, play out amongst docs and patients?

Cypress has an experienced marketing partner in Forest Labs, which is a plus. Forest is lauded for the way it was able to convert patients from its old antidepressant Celexa to a newer version of the drug, Lexapro. Can Forest bring that central nervous system marketing mojo to Savella?


Is it possible for there to be two people named Travis both ticked off at me about my biotech scribbles? Seems unlikely, although this Travis' email regarding my bearish column on Northfield Labs ( NFLD) came from a different address:

"Do some research, you piece of crap. If you were worth a grain of salt you would know the blood advisory meeting is already scheduled. You are an absolute fraud who needs to be in jail. Ask Hank Williams Jr.'s daughter if Polyheme should be approved. Why isn't that mentioned in your article? Mentioning Dr. Charles Natanson's paper shows you don't know $@!&."

Thanks for sharing, Travis.

At the time of publication, Feuerstein's Biotech Select model portfolio was long CVTX and MDVN.

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