NewLink Insiders Sell Stock While Moss Grows on Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine Analysis

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The wait goes on (and on, and on, and on some more) for NewLink Genetics (NLNK) to disclose the second interim analysis from the ongoing phase III study of its pancreatic cancer vaccine.

NewLink executives, on a quarterly conference call Tuesday, said little about the HyperAcute Pancreas vaccine study other than that the next interim analysis is expected in the second quarter.

How long have investors been waiting? Nine weeks, at least. It was on Feb. 24 when NewLink disclosed publicly that the required number of patient deaths (330) had occurred to kick-start the second interim analysis of the study. Of course, that last patient didn't die on Feb. 24, so the real wait has been even longer.

(The first interim analysis of the HyperAcute Pancreas phase III study occurred in March 2014.)

Maybe the HyperAcute analysis is taking so long because of the "alternative statistical methods" NewLink is deploying in the study. Last February, the company conceded the statistical analysis plan built into the original study design might not be "optimal" for determining whether HyperAcute is prolonging survival in pancreatic cancer patients.

Figuring out which "alternative" statistics to use might take a long time. On Tuesday, NewLink was asked which statistical method it chose to use for the interim analysis of the HyperAcute study. The company did not comment.

While investors wait for the HyperAcute data, NewLink executives are selling a lot of their company stock, approximately $15 million worth in the first quarter alone. Notably, some of these insider sales are from 10b5-1 trading plans set up after HyperAcute interim analysis was already under way.

None of this is very inspiring.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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