Northwest Bio's German Smokescreen Obscures DCVax Problems

BETHESDA, Md. (TheStreet) -- Northwest Biotherapeutics (NWBO) received clearance from German regulators for "compassionate use" of its experimental brain tumor vaccine DCVax on February 21, but the company delayed making an announcement until Monday, March 10.

Why would Northwest Biotherapeutics sit on good news for more than two weeks? The company isn't saying but I have a good guess: To divert investor attention away from the problems with its ongoing -- and much more important -- phase III clinical trial of DCVax.

So far, Northwest Bio's "German approval" smokescreen is working, with the stock up 60% to $9.76 over the past 2 days.

On Monday, the company issued a press release stating patients with glioblastoma mutliformae (GBM) or other forms of brain cancer will be eligible to receive early access to DCVax from German doctors outside of any clinical trial. At first, patients will have to pay for DCVax out of their own pocket, but Northwest Bio hopes to eventually negotiate some reimbursement from the German government.

The timing of Northwest Bio's announcement about a "Hospital Exemption" for early access to DCVax in Germany was peculiar because it came right after Friday's press release delaying (again) the disclosure of an interim analysis from the ongoing phase III study in patients with newly diagnosed GBM.

Nothing is more important to Northwest Bio than the DCVax phase III study because if positive, it will form the basis for approval filings in the U.S. and Europe. Yet the company seems unwilling to update investors on the study's progress.

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