My BioBuzz item on Opexa Therapeutics ( OPXA) perturbed Nicholas, who writes, "Stop hating
Onward. Thomas L. writes, "Hi Adam, I know you don't have time to comment on every email you get, but I was wondering if you could comment on Osiris Therapeutics ( OSIR) and their diabetes cure." Thomas sent along a link to a story in a U.K. publication about research with Osiris' stem-cell drug Prochymal in patients with Type 1 diabetes. My comment: Don't believe the hype. The dismal failure of Prochymal in two studies of patients with graft-vs.-host disease, coupled with the previous setbacks in Crohn's disease and knee cartilage repair, are more than enough to send Prochymal to the drug development graveyard. Osiris is a zombie stock -- dead but acting as if it's still alive.
That last line also answers Zach P.'s email. He asked, "Any thoughts on why Osiris isn't sitting closer to cash levels given the placebo-like results for Prochymal." Osiris equals the living dead.
Rick K. emails with a question about this week's obesity drug data from Vivus ( VVUS). "Qnexa is simply phentermine and topamax, both available today. So why wait for or use Qnexa?" Rick's question is a good one and highlights one of the commercial concerns raised about Qnexa. Generic phentermine is widely prescribed as a weight-loss drug today, so what stops doctors from adding a prescription for generic topirimate, instead of reaching for branded Qnexa? Vivus responds by stating that the dosages of phentermine and topiramate used in Qnexa are not available generically. The patented formulation of the two drugs into Qnexa -- delayed-release topirimate and immediate-release phentermine -- also plays a role in the drug's efficacy, according to Vivus.
Speaking of Antigenics, Stan M. takes issue with my valuation metrics for the company's vaccine adjuvant candidate Q21. "Your low-ball estimates for Antigenics royalty income from QS21 are ridiculous, especially when the company has already told us that it expects $500 million in peak royalty revenue," writes Stan, adding. "Get a life!" Sorry, that's wrong. What Antigenics' CFO Shalini Sharp said Wednesday was that $500 million in royalty revenue represented the total market potential if all QS21-containing vaccines garnered 100% market share in malaria, flu, cancer etc. She did not say that Antigenics expects to receive $500 million in royalty revenue from QS21. Think about it this way: If Antigenics received a 3.5% royalty (low-single digits) on sales of all QS21-containing vaccines, it would take more than $14 billion in vaccine sales to kick back $500 million in royalty revenue. You believe Antigenics' partners are working on $14 billion worth of peak vaccine sales? Really?
Lastly, I remember Bill Meehan on this day.