12:00 AM
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May 19, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Ebb & Flow Focus

The American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting is on the horizon, with the first spate of corporate press releases pouring forth last week to coincide with posting of abstracts for the May 30-June 2 conference in Chicago.

Although ASCO still generates attention, the oncology space has not provided the source of low-hanging fruit that once enticed investors attracted by the prospect that FDA would provide accelerated approval for cancer drugs based on preliminary evidence of efficacy from non-survival endpoints in small Phase II trials. Reality has been far different, as competition made it harder to enroll trials and FDA has raised the efficacy threshold and is consistently requiring robust evidence of effects on endpoints that clearly correlate with clinical benefit.

One VC who had doubts about the space early on was Mike Powell of Sofinnova Ventures. According to Powell, oncology companies are faced with longer development timelines, higher failure rates and greater expenses than those in other indications, driven by expensive and time-consuming assays, later-stage clinical data needed for exits, difficulties reproducing positive clinical trial results and challenges in trial recruitment.

According to Powell, a typical...

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