When Stemline Therapeutics (STML) makes a pitch to investors, the company's presentation includes a slide containing Internet message board posts from two patients with a rare form of blood cancer. Both patients say they had complete responses following treatment with Stemline's experimental drug SL-401.
But Stemline edited the message board posts, omitting information which would help determine if SL-401 or some other therapy was responsible for the complete responses observed in these cancer patients.
Stemline also issued a press release claiming one of the cancer patients experienced no "serious side effects" following treatment with SL-401. But this patient's own blog described treatment with SL-401 as "difficult and unpredictable" with "harsh side effects" that required a prolonged hospital stay.
Stemline's investor slide deck and its press release accurately describe the experience cancer patients have following treatment with SL-401, said CEO Ivan Bergstein in an interview last week.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which runs the message board from which Stemline took the cancer patients' posts, was okay with their use, said Bergstein.
"We worked together with them on our investor slide deck," he said.
That's not exactly how the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society views the situation. Chief Mission Officer Lou DeGennaro says the society has met with Stemline to discuss SL-401 but was not aware patient posts from its message board were being used by the company to promote its stock.
"We don't have decision-making authority over the the message board excerpts but we have asked Stemline to reconsider their use," said DeGennaro.
At Monday's $21.91 close, Stemline shares have more than doubled in value since the company went public in January at $10 per share, although the stock is off more than 50% from its Oct. 1 high of $47 per share. The company's lead pipeline drug is SL-401, a biologic therapy consisting of a protein, IL-3, linked to a toxic diptheria payload. SL-401 is designed to attach itself to IL-3 receptors found on cancer stem cells associated with blood-related cancers. Once attached, the diptheria payload is released inside the tumor, killing it.