Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conatus Pharma Breaks From Intercept's Shadow?

Bloggers and traders alike are scratching their heads, looking for answers as to why Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT) is up more than 48% intraday today.

Short of any company comments and my own hubris, Premium subscribers over at PropThink.com profitably know why: "Intercept  Isn't the Only Way to Play Liver Disease."

To wit: [excerpt] "Similarly focused on liver disease treatments, Conatus Pharmaceuticals (CNAT) has risen and fallen on parallel developments for Intercept Pharmaceuticals’ (ICPT) obeticholic acid (OCA). A series of favorable emricasan updates in the next 12 months, including Phase 2 updates in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or fibrotic nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), could allow investors to better assess the commercial opportunities of CNAT’s lead compound – and finally free the stock price from Intercept’s shadow."

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

Agios Impresses With Leukemia Drug: Investor Beware

Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO-$43.35) moved substantially higher in price last month after reporting Phase 1 data demonstrating that its cancer metabolism drug AG-221, a first-in-class inhibitor of IDH2 mutations, generated promising clinical activity, including complete remissions in several patients whose blood cancers harbored the IDH2 mutation. 

What has investors excited is that in addition to being well-tolerated, a “substantial” reduction of plasma 2-HG was achieved: Called an “oncometabolite” for its role in cancer metabolism, the metabolite 2-hydroxygluturate (2HG) is a by-product of the mutated IDH2 gene. The initial findings support the theory that inhibiting mutant forms of IDH2 suppresses the growth of these 2HG-producing tumor cells.

Investors are making the quantum leap – based on a small safety/dosing trial – that curtailing 2-HG supply will normalize gene expression….



Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Biotech Losers of 2013: AVEO, INFI, AFFY, and ARIA -- Where Are They Now?

Despite having lost more than 90% of its market valuation in the last 21 months, AVEO Pharma’s (AVEO-$1.24)  management believes it can drive shareholder creation by moving forward with other early-stage, oncology assets, principally by securing partnerships after providing proof-of-concept data. Though attractive commercial opportunities do exist, even in highly competitive markets, for targeted cancer therapies, we question this management team’s ability to develop their putative “first-in-class clinical assets” following the debacle of the VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, tivozanib, last year.


Evolving Phase 1 data presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting held in early December 2013 showed not only that earlier safety concerns on Infinity’s (INFI-$9.20) lead asset, IPI-145, had been overblown, but that the drug demonstrated impressive efficacy in patients with either relapsed or refractory CLL (81% of patients had been treated with three or more systemic therapies), too.


Unfortunately, we’ll never know the “would of, could of” commercial potential for Affymax’s (AFFY-$0.70) anemia treatment, brand-name Omontys. After posting sales of $34.6 million for the nine-month period ending December 31, 2012 – slightly below analyst forecasts, suggestive of the contract-grip Amgen held on dialysis centers – Omontys was recalled on February 23, 2013 following reports of severe hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis in 0.2% (or about 50 patients) — including fatal reactions in 0.02% of the 25,000 patients –within 30 minutes of their first IV dose in the post-marketing phase. Almost a third of the reported cases required prompt medical intervention and in some cases hospitalization, according to an FDA safety alert issued at the time.


Though the stock price of Ariad Pharma (ARIA-$7.25) has rallied off its 52-week low of $2.15 per share (October 31, 2013) to the $7.00 level, it still trades significantly below its 52-week high of $23.00 (September 11, 2013). The relief rally has stalled for two reasons:
  • Iclusig competes in an already crowded market for just two rare cancers. According to National Cancer Institute statistics, approximately 5,200 new cases of CML and 1,800 new cases of Ph+ ALL are diagnosed each year in the United States; and,
  • Ariad has discontinued – after consulting with the FDA – its EPIC trial, which had been designed to investigate the use of Iclusig in the front-line settings.


Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

AbbVie's IV Lifeline Still Humira

Investors in AbbVie (ABBV-$53.34) are reminded each quarterly earnings release of the continued importance of Humira to the drug maker's success.  AbbVie's flagship drug, an efficacious treatment for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriasis, contributed $10.7 billion in global sales (56% of worldwide revenue of $18.8 billion) last year.

AbbVie is spending more than 16% of annual sales to develop a pipeline -- including promising treatments for multiple sclerosis, blood cancers, and hepatitis-C (across all patient types) - with the goal of reducing its dependence on Humira. Fortunately, the Chicago-based drug manufacturer has a stable of off-patent, legacy drugs that contribute sizable sales to this R&D effort.


Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

AbbVie Hums with Humira

AbbVie (ABBV - $53.10) Chief executive Rick Gonzalez told analysts on the fourth-quarter earnings call that management expects global Humira sales this year will continue growing at a (low) double-digit pace, excluding the impact of foreign exchange. The pursuit of additional indications currently in late stage clinical trials, such as Uveitis (inflammation of the eye and the third leading-cause of blindness), is expected to augment growth too.

Humira – like Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Remicade – is a manufactured monoclonal antibody that treats autoimmune diseases by interfering with (blocking) tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an inflammatory protein over-expressed in a wide range of progressive inflammatory disorders that can result in permanent tissue and joint damage over time. 

Could Humira lose share to biosimilars?  Read more at The Motley Fool: AbbVie's Humira Still a Growth Engine

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Pfizer's Strategic Move into Opioid Analgesics

Pfizer's (PFE-$31.93) management stated during the fourth-quarter 2013 earnings call last month that a move toward opioid analgesics and a promising anti-nerve growth factor (NGF) drug in its pipeline, a monoclonal antibody called tanezumab, could help to mitigate the impact Celebrex's loss of market exclusivity will have on sales going forward.

Looking to capitalize on the growing need for abuse-deterrent formulations, Pfizer is looking to entrench itself in the $5.1 billion market for extended-release (ER) opioid formulations prescribed by physicians to chronic pain sufferers (30% of the $18.1 billion in annual sales for all opioid-based therapies). 

Chief executive Ian Read confirmed on the conference call that Embeda, an ER morphine/naltrexone formulation that was voluntarily benched in 2011, would be back on pharmacy shelves in second-quarter 2014 after the FDA approved both an updated manufacturing process and a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) – which is now required for all ER and long-acting opioid medications.

Read more at The Motley Fool: Pfizer Stubs Toe Without Celebrex

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Ignore the Zogenix Buzz

Though Zogenix (ZGNX-$3.55) is entering a chronic pain market with estimated annual sales worth an estimated $15.5 billion, the market is saturated with reformulations of well-established short and long-acting products that include generic and branded hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g. OxyContin), hydromorphone (e.g. Exalgo), morphine (e.g. Avinza), oxymorphone (e.g. Opana ER), and fentanyl (Duragesic transdermal patch).

Undaunted, chief executive officer Roger Hawley judiciously opines that Zohydro ER has the potential to fulfill an unmet clinical need: similar efficacy to a combination-entity hydrocone that contains the analgesic acetaminophen or ibuprofen, such as AbbVie's (ABBV) Vicoden or Vicoprofen – but without the risk of liver toxicity.

Continue reading at The Motley Fool: Zogenix Stockholders Facing World of Pain?

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Progenics Pharmaceuticals: New Front in War Against Cancer

Investors’ bearish sentiment that further testing of the clinical utility of Progenics Pharma’s (PGNX-$5.00) PSMA-ADC might be pointless due to toxicity concerns is unfounded: Robert Israel, MD, one of the study authors and executive vice president of medical affairs at Progenics, pointed out to Medscape Medical News that both of the patients who died had predisposing conditions.

"One had an indwelling central line [known to increase risk of developing sepsis] and the other had repeated urinary tract infections," said Dr. Israel. "The patients were also heavily pretreated and didn't have much in the way of other options."

As a new class of biological therapeutics, the ADC market is still in its infancy. Nonetheless, skeptics might want to spend a Saturday reading up on the managed benefits of these highly potent drugs in the context of understood off-target toxicities.


Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

The New Old Yahoo Under Marissa Mayer

Yahoo (YHOO-$38.23) continues to fall further behind Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) in organic growth for inquiring eyes (and potential customer dollars). In June 2012, the respective share of the U.S. search engine market held by Google, Bing and Yahoo stood at 66.8%, 15.6%, and 13%; data released by comScore for December 2013 showed Google and Microsoft continue gaining voice at Yahoo’s expense: Google and Microsoft expanded their market shares to 67.3% and 18.2% -- while during Mayer’s tenure, Yahoo’s market has fallen further to a 10.8% share.

Revenue slumped for the fourth consecutive quarter at Yahoo, dipping 6% to $1.27 billion in the last three months of 2013, led by a similar 6% decline in all-important display-ad sales to $491 million (as a price-per-ad decline of 7% offset a 3% increase in total number of ads).


Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lobbying Momentum to Drive Pharmacyclics Success?

In addition to hard science, lobbying momentum could be another catalyst driving sales of Pharmacyclics (PCYC-$131.38) new blood cancer drug Imbruvica significantly higher in coming years. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), which is an alliance of leading global cancer centers, issues recommendation protocols reflecting the consensus standard-of-care practices in oncology. Irrespective of formal FDA regulatory approval, an NCCN endorsement can be highly determinative of which therapies are reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and private insurers in a given indication. In other words, forget ICD-9 diagnostics codes.

In addition to the formally approved indication of relapsed/refractory MCL, updated NCCN guidelines now already recommend Imbruvica for the “off-label” treatment of refractory and relapsed CLL and other NHL subtypes, according to JMS Securities. 

See more at YCharts: Pharmacyclics: FactsBehind $10B Market Cap

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.