BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- It's been one heck of a busy week in prostate cancer, with stumbles by Exelixis ( EXEL) over its pivotal study plans for cabozantinib, Dendreon's ( DNDN) descent into irrelevancy with Provenge and Medivation's ( MDVN) big phase III win for MDV3100. I'm often accused of hating all biotech and drug stocks. While I acknowledge that I come pretty darn close to being a bio-nihilist much of the time, I'm also capable of being positive, optimistic -- bullish. Need proof? Medivation! @OmatOye tweets, "@adamfeuerstein what crystal ball are you looking at, you are on a roll buddy, PCRX now MDVN....u sure ain't Miss chloe so what's next?" Thanks Omat. It always feels good to make good stock calls, especially after being wrong on Spectrum Pharmaceuticals ( SPPI) last week. What's next? How about Targacept ( TRGT)? I'm predicting positive results from the first phase III study of its anti-depressant TC-5214. Data will be announced before the end of the month. Like with Medivation, a study win could double Targacept's stock price. Kim456 emails, "Do you think there is a chance that Astellas buys Medivation now?" I passed on your question to Barca Boy. You know the Stig from Top Gear? Barca Boy is the biotech stock equivalent of the Stig, without the white driving suit. Barca Boy is a grizzled institutional broker with an obsession for biotech stocks and the Barcelona football club. This is what he had to say on Astellas buying Medivation: "It would be smart for Astellas to buy Medivation but it's not the normal behavior for pharma, which doesn't tend to think the way Wall Street thinks. Astellas already made the decision to partner with Medivation, and the partner is on a different profit-and-loss line than buying them, which would hit the capital line." More often than not, Big Pharma doesn't buy out its smaller drug or biotech partners. For instance, no acquisitions between Eli Lilly ( LLY) and Amylin Pharma ( AMLN); Pfizer ( PFE) and Auxillium ( AUXL); Bayer and Onyx Pharma ( ONXX). Likewise, Biogen Idec ( BIIB) hasn't bought partner Acorda Therapeutics ( ACOR), nor has Biogen acquired Elan ( ELN). Regarding my Dendreon column on Provenge's many problems, Paul A. writes, "Adam - Seriously, was it necessary to write two hit pieces on Dendreon in the same day? A lot of people are getting killed on this stock in pre-market. You couldn't give it a day to settle, you just had to drive it down further and hurt the retail investor a bit more? What is wrong with you? You actually woke up with the sun this morning and decided that you'd help to destroy as many small investors as possible before they could lighten their positions? Seriously, man, you need a gut check. Telling it like it is is one thing, but intentionally bashing a company that is already hurting is just wrong. I've read your columns for years, and always found you to be slightly immature, but often pretty reasonable, but what you've done this morning in inexcusable. You should be ashamed."
I'm sorry for your loss, Paul, but Dendreon was heading lower whether I wrote my column or not. The Medivation news may seem like piling on, but again, I have no control over the timing of phase III trial results. My job as a journalist and biotech columnist is to interpret, analyze and make sense of biotech news as quickly as possible. You may not believe me, but I wake up every morning before the sun rises, thinking of ways to help the small biotech investor. Often, that means writing about the ugly and painful truths of stocks like Dendreon. @ywsr asks, "@adamfeuerstein is that it for Provenge, Adam? DNDN to pink sheets?" No, Provenge is not done and Dendreon isn't heading to the pink sheets, but the company has significant problems to overcome, some of which may just be unfixable. Like I said in Thursday's column, great science doesn't always make a great business. The high fixed costs and complicated logistics of manufacturing and delivering Provenge may prevent Dendreon from ever delivering significant profits to investors. Meantime, the entire prostate cancer treatment field moves forward at an astonishing pace, with new drugs reaching the market that can all significantly extend survival. That's fantastic news for prostate cancer patients, but troubling for Dendreon if it falls any further behind. @Rybaxx tweets, "@adamfeuerstein is there any truth in the Roche story buying AEZS as volume in both stocks was high today." No, I don't believe Roche is going to buy Aeterna Zentaris ( AEZS) or Keryx Pharmaceuticals ( KERX). Keryx held its third-quarter conference call Thursday morning during which CEO Ron Bentsur had the following to say about my recent columns predicting the failure of his colon cancer drug perifosine: "Recently, comments have been made regarding the design of the phase II study of perifosine in metastatic colorectal cancer. While people are fully entitled to their opinion, I just want to say… following the completion of the study, FDA reviewed the phase II study and results and subsequently granted an SPA for our ongoing phase III study. Also, JCO
Journal of Clinical Oncology , a highly reputable, peer reviewed journal, evaluated the phase II study including the design and results and recently chose to publish the data in last month's edition."
To which I reply: So what? Bentsur's comments play well to the uninformed retail investor crowd who joined him on his conference call. But he knows full well the FDA doesn't "review" phase II data. The flaws in the phase II study pointed out by my collaborator Dr. Mark Ratain would not have prevented the FDA from allowing Keryx to conduct a phase III study, nor would it have caused the FDA problems with a Special Protocol Assessment, or SPA. Companies that suggest otherwise are just misleading investors. Ditto for the publication of the phase II study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Are we to believe that every phase II study published in a peer-reviewed oncology journal leads inevitably to a successful phase III study? That's nonsense. In fact, journals are filled with garbage phase II data. On his conference call, Bentsur said it's hard to knock down the survival benefit seen in the perifosine phase II study because of the double-blind randomized study design. Ratain and I disagree, and we continue to believe the phase III study of perifosine will fail. Perifosine results are expected in the first quarter. Amarin ( AMRN) is holding its third-quarter conference call on Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET. Let's hope CEO Joe Zakrzewski got the message and provides shareholders with an in-depth review of the patent position for AMR101. Based on my email this week, Zakrzewski's shareholders are confused and angry. Richard M. writes, "Thank you Thank you Thank you for voicing our frustration with this company's management… You were far too kind in your description of the CEO. Any chance retail investors could get an Occupy Amarin protest going?" Amarin shareholders are the 99%! Martin D. writes, "I read your column today, 'Amarin CEO Remains Dumbstruck as Patent Worries Roil Stock' and couldn't agree with you more. This CEO has no idea how to run the show, no less than he is able to appropriately communicate with investors. From his initial revelations that he was not necessarily inclined to partner with Big Pharma, to his stance that he will globally market this product himself, to his present non-communicative posture, he alone has mostly accounted for the precipitous decline in share price. Hopefully they will get patent approval and the share price will eventually rise because of the potential marketability and actual commercialization due to the drug's good qualities. Keep up the good reporting. I always enjoy reading your columns."
Delores B. emails, "So grateful for positive, informative article on Amarin. Thank you, thank you." Back to Dendreon, BertBean6 asks, "Where did the Victrelis royalty come from and is this a good thing for Dendreon?" The Victrelis royalty certainly came out of the blue, didn't it? Dendreon booked about $3 million in royalty revenue during the September quarter based off sales of Merck's ( MRK) hepatitis C drug Victrelis. The royalty rate appears to be in the single digits. Oddly, Dendreon has never before discussed a Victrelis royalty, but it's origin stems from Dendreon's acquisition of Corvas in 2003. Prior to that, Corvas had entered into a hepatitis C drug development pact with Schering-Plough (now Merck.) Corvas, now Dendreon is on the core patent covering Victrelis. Deutsche Bank biotech analyst Robyn Karnauskas estimates the Victrelis royalty stream to be worth 64 cents per share in her Dendreon discounted cash flow model. I've seen other estimates valuing the Victrelis royalty at $1.50 to $2 per share. --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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.