@chasingthealpha tweets, "How do you think $VRTX is going to act when $VRUS announces PROTON ph2 results?" Allow me to translate: Mr. Alpha wants to know how Vertex Pharmaceuticals' ( VRTX) stock price will react to Pharmasset's ( VRUS) expected announcement later this year of interim results from a phase II study of its experimental hepatitis C drug PSI-7977. I might fail miserably at providing a specific answer to this great question, but let me try to provide some context that might help. Vertex has the best hepatitis C drug in the market today. It's called Incivek, and by all accounts, the drug's early launch is going quite well. Investors will get more details about the Incivek launch when Vertex reports second-quarter financial results on July 28. The concern investors have about Vertex, however, is that Incivek may not be the best hepatitis C drug for long. A lot of investors believe Pharmasset's PSI-7977 has a shot at being the next great Hep C drug. PSI-7977 data presented so far has definitely impressed -- a big reason for Pharmasset's stock tripling in value this year.
Dirk P. asks, "I've been looking at Osiris Therapeutics (OSIR) as a potential short candidate and came across your early articles. I'm not a biotech expert but the past data mining issues you highlighted, not to mention the fact that the CEO is an investment banker are both red flags, as is the skyrocketing short interest and option volatility. Genzyme's involvement is a head-scratcher though. I was wondering if you still follow it and have any thoughts good or bad." Osiris shares are up approximately 22% in the last month (although up just 5% year to date) perhaps in anticipation of the approval decision expected soon by Canadian regulators for Prochymal in graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Dirk alludes to my previous columns on Osiris and Prochymal, many of which have pointed out the obvious problems and flaws in the failed GVHD phase III studies. Canadian regulators will reject Prochymal, in my opinion. The timing of the expected Canada decision isn't clear. On Osiris' last conference call, the company said it responded to questions from Canadian regulators in March, triggering a 90-day review clock. That implies a June decision date, which didn't happen. Why not? On its May conference call, Osiris CEO said, "As with any regulatory action, all time frames are only targets and should not be viewed as a time certain." Efforts to get Prochymal approved in the U.S. are still in limbo. I don't expect that to change any time soon. Osiris can't submit failed trials to the FDA, and the company continues to seek short cuts instead of admitting that an entirely new, randomized phase III study will be necessary. Additional clinical trials of Prochymal in Crohn's disease and heart attack are ongoing, but why expect positive results when all the data on Prochymal to date have been negative? Sanofi ( SNY) is now Osiris' Prochymal partner following the acquisition of Genzyme. Sanofi's continued involvement with Osiris is definitely a head- scratcher. It's shocking, quite frankly. I can only guess that Sanofi has been too busy with other Genzyme issues to divorce itself from Osiris. --Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/adamfeuerstein. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.