Monday, December 7, 1998
Immunex (IMNX) surged last week as Chairman and CEO Edward Fritzky told the BancBoston Robertson Stephens conference in New York that the company plans to submit a supplemental NDA with the FDA in the second quarter of 1999 for Novantrone mitoxantrone for multiple sclerosis.
The announcement fit the company's "products with a pipeline" theme, in which IMNX plans to turn one approved product into several different opportunities. Novantrone already is approved as an initial chemotherapy for use with corticosteroids to treat pain associated with advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer, and as initial therapy for acute nonlymphocytic leukemia in combination with other drugs.
Other IMNX products with potential multiple uses include Leukine GM-CSF and Enbrel, its recombinant TNF receptor that received FDA approval in November to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Leukine is approved for bone marrow and peripheral blood progenitor cell transplantation and to treat chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in older adult patients with acute myelogenous leukemia. IMNX is conducting a Phase III trial of Leukine in AIDS, and a Phase I trial of Enbrel for congestive heart failure. Data are expected in the Leukine trial in the first quarter.
The stock move also may have been related to short covering combined with IMNX's small float. Only 18.5 million of the company's 40 million shares outstanding are in the float. American Home Products owns 54 percent of IMNX.
IMNX's short position has more than doubled in the past 12 months. As of Nov. 15, 3.1 million shares - or 17 percent of the shares in the float - were shorted.
The stock closed Friday at $102.75, up $12.50 (14 percent) on the week, after getting as high as $104.125 intraday on Thursday.
Flush with cash
Ontogeny's $28.1 million private financing will provide the company with enough cash to wait out the soft IPO market, and - with more than five years of cash at current spending levels - perhaps additional bear markets to come. At year end, the developmental biology company plans to have $50 million in the bank, with a burn rate of just under $10 million.