EMERYVILLE, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Onyx Pharmaceuticals ( ONXX) held a conference call this morning to discuss the Nexavar breast cancer study -- the investor call the company should have held last week when the data were actually presented fresh. It was nice to hear noted breast cancer expert Dr. Jose Baselga, the principal investigator in the Nexavar phase II study, express a lot of enthusiasm for the drug and its potential as a new breast cancer treatment. He responded strongly and persuasively to a lot of the criticisms and concerns about the study aired last week. Unfortunately, his comments are also a bit stale coming one week late. For that, place the blame squarely at the feet of Onyx management, which continues to demonstrate a jaw-dropping inability to manage relations with investors. The fall in Onyx's stock price last week and the weakness today reflects to a large degree an utter lack of investor confidence in management. Granted, the entire market is weak today, but it's still worth noting that Onyx shares are lower now than they were when the conference call was going on. The market seems to judging the Nexavar phase II breast cancer study results announced today (see my write-up below) as a total failure. I wonder if the reaction would have been different if Onyx had any good will or trust with investors? After all, Roche/Genentech didn't always bring home stellar phase II data for Avastin in breast cancer, yet the drug was successful in phase III studies, which led to regulatory approval. Onyx, sadly, doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. Investors are also scared to death that Onyx management is about to embark on an expensive deal to acquire or license a new late-stage cancer drug candidate. Rumors have swirled for months that Onyx has its eye on acquiring a privately held cancer drug company. The worry is that Onyx will pay through the nose for an asset or assets that few on the Street will view as beneficial. Here again, the mediocrity of Onyx's management team fosters only mistrust and dread from investors. I sound like an Onyx hater, but I'm not. I'm actually a frustrated Onyx fan. I see a company with a very good drug (Nexavar) whose value has never been fully realized by investors because of management missteps and missed opportunities. Like holding a simple conference call on time. SEE ALSO: Biotech Calendar for October
Orexigen faces competiton in the weight-loss drug arena from Arena Pharmaceuticals ( ARNA - Get Report) and Vivus ( VVUS - Get Report), both of which are also seeking regulatory approval for their respective obesity drugs.
The biggest improvement for FTY720 is on the safety side, where the low dose of the drug showed no increase in infection risk compared to placebo. The cancer rate for FTY720 was lower in this new trial than in a previous trial, including no reported cases of breast cancer.