Angry investors hammered Alpha-Beta Technology Inc. stock amid concerns over the company's timeline for entering Phase III studies of Betafectin and following an unfriendly reception to the presentation of its second Phase I/II study at the Surgical Infection Society meeting in Toronto.

But in retrospect, the problem with the data started in early April, when ABTI released the abstract for the meeting. The abstract raised more questions than it answered, specifically why the placebo and 0.1 mg/kg doses were grouped together and why the 0.5, 1 and 2 mg/kg doses were grouped. In addition, as a result of the grouping, it wasn't possible to determine whether there was a dose response.

On the day of the meeting, April 29, the Worcester, Mass., company issued a press release that merely said the company "presented encouraging results."

Lack of information

The lack of information on the data was compounded over the weekend as word leaked out that the investigators had stopped the 2 mg dose part way through the trial and that the discussant had lambasted the study.