Via Twitter, @jrock452 asks, "Your take why Amarin raised cash when
@crusadernz tweets, "Would you have expected at least some efficacy data to be released after 1st look into phase 3 Stimuvax $ONTY?" On Dec. 22, Oncothyreon ( ONTY) filed an 8-K stating an independent data monitoring committee recommended the continuation of the phase III "START" study of Stimuvax in non-small cell lung cancer. This study is being run by Oncothyreon's Stimuvax development partner, the German drug firm Merck KGaA. The "START" study is double blinded and placebo controlled, which means participating patients and doctors do not know who is being treated with Stimuvax or a placebo. As a result, it's not unusual at all for efficacy data to remain blinded and undisclosed during the course of the trial. In fact, that's the way studies like these are supposed to work. Phase III studies like "START" are designed with independent data monitors, who are charged with insuring that patients are not harmed. They're the only people who are supposed to have access to unblinded data until the study is done and ready to be analyzed. Data monitors also can stop studies early if an experimental drug demonstrates a profound benefit for patients. Typically, however, the statistical hurdle is very high for early stoppage due to efficacy, so again, it's not unusual that at the first look, the data monitors recommended the continuation of the Stimuvax study.