A reader who goes by the moniker "Big Bill" emails a comment about my story on Spectrum Pharmaceuticals ( SPPI). He believes the company is going to have tough time turning the cancer drug Zevalin into a commercial success. "Concerning your article about Zevalin, the product will never move unless the oncology clinics are going to make a profit on reimbursement. They can continue to use other chemo agents over and over on these patients and make money. If they use Zevalin or Bexxar, they make no money no matter how good the data appears to be. No company will ever move these products unless the clinics/hospitals make money on them. Sad but true." Big Bill gets it right, with the caveat that Spectrum could benefit from an expanded Zevalin label and a Medicare reimbursement change that's more friendly to doctors' bottom line. I say "could" because much has to go right before either of those things happen. I don't see the need to jump into Spectrum now. The stock is on my watch list, pending the outcome of the FDA decision on the new Zevalin label in July and evidence that Spectrum can accelerate Zevalin's sales growth.
Chris emailed to get my thoughts on Human Genome Sciences ( HGSI) in the wake of the stock's collapse following release of mixed data from a phase III study of albuferon, a long-acting interferon for the treatment of hepatitis C. Unlike many on the Street, Chris is not writing off Albuferon and thinks the company's lupus drug, LymphoStat-B, has a decent chance of success when data from a phase III study are released this summer.
Harry A. can't seem to let Cell Genesys ( CEGE) die a quiet, peaceful death. "If in your opinion Cell Genesys is done, then explain why Leroy Kopp
"Gumby" asks, "I wonder whether there will be some biotechs that will remain independent indefinitely for decades to come? I favor biotechs that will remain biotechs and that can merge with similar biotechs but not Big Pharma. What do you say?" Gumby asks a timely question given Roche's successful tender offer for Genentech ( DNA), which means the old "DNA" ticker symbol we've all come to know and love these many years is vanishing. How strange and sad. Much is made of Big Pharma's need to buy up biotech companies to replenish their depleted pipelines, but don't forget that nothing stops the larger and more successful biotechs from gobbling up their smaller sector cousins, too.