Lonnie M. emails about Cell Therapeutics ( CTIC): "Will the pixantrone data being presented this weekend convince FDA to change its mind and approve the drug? I think so, after all, why would the meeting want to see new pixantrone data if it weren't great showing patients surviving because of this badly needed drug." No. The pixantrone data being presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting are not new or significant, nor will the data convince the FDA to rethink or reverse the decision to reject the drug.
As of Thursday morning, Amylin Pharmaceuticals ( AMLN) CEO Dan Bradbury had a small lead over Arena Pharmaceuticals ( ARNA) CEO Jack Lief and Xoma's ( XOMA) Steven Engle in the voting for the Worst Biotech CEO of the Year Award. Bradbury had 341 votes, or 33% of the total, just ahead of Lief and Engle, with 296 votes (29%) and 290 votes (28%), respectively. Amag Pharmaceuticals' ( AMAG) Brian Pereira was far off the pace, with just 10% of the votes cast. I'll keep the Worst Biotech CEO of 2010 poll open for another few days before declaring the winner of the Nance Trophy. Make sure you vote, if you haven't done so. And if you have voted, vote again! Judging by email feedback received so far, I should have nominated Elan ( ELN) CEO Kelly Martin for the Worst Bio CEO Award. Kelly was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2008 but he's apparently still very unpopular and is garnering a lot of write-in support for a second trophy! Josh G., who describes himself as a long-time Elan sufferer, emails, "Can we vote for Kelly Martin again for worst CEO? Lots more embarrassing screw-ups in 2010!" John E. seconds that vote. "Adam, You are slipping. I maintain that Kelly Martin (un-nominated) continues to reign supreme as the Worst Biotech CEO of 2010. Where else can you find that deft balance between fraud and spin, gold-plated incompetence, and 'mind in neutral' mentality?? All in my honest opinion of course."
Sammy E. asks, "What is your outlook for Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX)?" Vertex will be a big story in 2011 with the approval and commercial launch of the groundbreaking hepatitis C drug telaprevir. Yes, telaprevir's approval is a certainty, or as close to a sure thing as you'll ever see. That's both a tribute to the scientists and drug developers at Vertex but also a significant challenge for the company's business executives. Wall Street is already expecting big things from telaprevir, which is reflected and baked in to Vertex's nearly $7 billion market valuation to a large extent. That puts added pressure on Vertex to make sure telaprevir launches strong and garners the quick and bountiful sales that investors who own the stock now are demanding.
Patrimus B. emails, "Hey Adam, you will be delighted to know I have added your page to my favorites. After trawling through your past articles it soon became apparent you know your stuff -- your recent articles on Amarin were what cemented it for me. I have my own opinions on the following two companies but was just wondering what your views are -- Elan and BioSante Pharmaceuticals (BPAX)." Elan: I see no reason to own the stock. Growth in Tysabri, the company's multiple sclerosis drug, is still stunted and is now under added pressure from the first MS pill recently launched by Novartis ( NVS). Elan still owns a minority stake in experimental Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab but the drug isn't likely to work based on the data presented to date. And let's not forget that Elan CEO Martin isn't exactly the most confidence-inspiring leader, as witnessed by the reader comments above. BioSante: The challenge/risk is not upcoming results from the phase III study of Libigel in hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). I'm fairly confident the LibiGel studies will yield positive results. Libigel is just testosterone and we've already seen studies from Procter & Gamble ( PG) that testosterone therapy can produce positive results in FSD. The risks are getting 1) getting LibiGel approved by FDA in the face of what will be substantial opposition from people who believe HSDD is nothing more than a marketing gimmick masquerading as a real disease; and 2) convincing doctors that the improvement in sexual desire stemming from LibiGel are clinically meaningful; and 3) raising the huge sums of money it will take to market LibiGel, if approved.