Monday, July 30, 2001
After bidding up Aviron (AVIR) earlier last week, investors were forced to wait through the weekend to see the fate of their bet as the stock was halted on Thursday and Friday for the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee's review of AVIR's FluMist influenza vaccine. After first deciding that FluMist was efficacious, the panel voted 10-4 on Friday that the data were not adequate to support the safety of the compound (see A5).
The stock had traded up $3.80 (10%) to $40.80 through Wednesday. Buyers of AVIR's $200 million follow-on on Feb. 2, which went off at $50 a share, should be particularly interested in Monday's open.
Amylin's trading following its negative panel could offer AVIR investors some comfort. AMLN actually traded up $0.04 to $7.99 on 17 million shares on Friday after the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Advisory Committee voted 8-1 and 6-3 against approval of Symlin pramlintide to treat Type I and Type II diabetes, respectively (see Cover Story).
AMLN, which was off $0.95 (11%) on the week, also recently brought in a bunch of money. The company raised $35 million on May 14 through the sale of 3.5 million shares at $10 to a group of institutional and private investors.
On the other hand, both stocks have traded down significantly in the weeks leading up to their panels. AMLN was at $14.72 stock as recently as June 21, the same day that AVIR hit $58.86.
Still, the sector also may be encouraged by investor response to a week also peppered with clinical setbacks. In addition to the two negative panel votes, three biotech companies announced clinical trial delays for key products and the failure of a Phase II study in Parkinson's disease by partners Guilford (GLFD) and Amgen (AMGN) (see below). Despite those setbacks, the BioCentury 100 managed to move up 1%, while the NASDAQ Composite was flat.
Delays 'R' us
Nevertheless, investors punished companies for delaying their clinical timelines. The most heavily hit was Titan (TTP). It tumbled $15.40 (56%) on the week to $12.10 after sliding $15.30 to $11.95 on 4.9 million shares on Tuesday's news that it and partner Novartis now plan to include new dosing studies in initial regulatory filings in the U.S. for TTP's Zomaril iloperidone dopamine and serotonin receptor antagonist to treat acute schizophrenia.