Ebb & Flow

This year's American Society of Clinical Oncology conference saw muted moves compared with the run up in the months preceding last year's conference and the hosing that cancer companies received during and after last year's meeting. The post-ASCO selloff in 2004 shouldn't have been a huge shock. From the biotech group's floor on March 7, 2003, cancer companies were up 131% going into the 2004 meeting. That was almost double the 73% gain the BioCentury 100 Index posted in that time (see BioCentury, June 13, 2004).

This year, with few exceptions, there were no major profits to lock in. The cancer basket of 157 companies is down 17% on the year, compared to a 10% fall in the BioCentury 100 Index and a 6% decline in the NASDAQ. In the second quarter, the cancer group is off 1%, while BioCentury 100 Index is up 5%. Thus, it's not surprising that most of the public biotechs that presented at ASCO had stock moves of less than 5% in either direction.

MPM's Kurt von Emster said investors "breathed a sigh of relief that there were no disasters. The longs and the shorts both are happy that they basically broke even with the conference."

On an individual basis, OrbiMed's Sven Borho said he liked data from Ariad (ARIA), which reported interim Phase II data for its AP23573 small molecule mTOR inhibitor to treat solid tumors in patients with bone and soft tissue sarcomas. ARIA reported that 19 of 52 evaluable patients had clinical-benefit responses, or sustained

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