Columbus Day Dash & Slash features DEPO, VVUS, ONCY and RDNT Print E-mail
By M.E.Garza   
Monday, 12 October 2009 03:00

Trading was a little thin due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, and a breakdown in technical support levels caused some midsession panic, but the S&P 500 successfully logged its sixth straight gain- the best streak this year for the stock market. The Dow rose 20.86 to 9,885.80, but couldn't hold the intraday high for the year and the Nasdaq slipped 0.14 to 2,139.14.

In healthcare, DepoMed, Inc.(NASDAQ:DEPO) was the biggest loser as shareholders watched the stock drop nearly 38% to $3.97 -2.39. Before the market opened, DepoMed announced top-line results from the BREEZE 1 and 2 Phase 3 clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of SeradaTM, an investigational non-hormonal extended release formulation of gabapentin for the treatment of menopausal hot flashes.

The DepoMed management team organized a conference call to reassure investors that the news was not all bad, and they did a convincing job of conveying that message, but the street did not like what it saw anyway.

The drop stung even more considering that just last week, the company announced top-line results from a Phase 3 clinical trial demonstrating DM-1796 (also referred to as gabapentin ER) achieved a statistically significant reduction in pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) versus placebo using the baseline observation carried forward (BOCF) method required by FDA.

We were flooded by e-mails asking us why shares of VIVUS, Inc. (Nasdaq:VVUS) were suddenly flying off the shelf early in the day. While some attributed the rise to new price targets from analysts, others said news may have leaked, but no concrete news items could be tracked. Then someone told us that CNBC's biotech guru Mike Huckman was commenting on today on the buy out of a small bio techs, pointing out that big pharmas are cash rich and patent poor. Time is short and the big pharmas can't afford to keep spending money on failed clinical trials as they search for the next blockbuster drug.

That brings us back to Vivus, whose product pipeline includes three late-stage clinical products, each addressing specific components of the obesity, diabetes and sexual health markets. As subscribers to the BioMedReports FDA Calendar know, one of these investigational products, Qnexa, is in Phase III clinical trials for obesity and in Phase II clinical trials for diabetes. As such, the speculation is that VIVUS would make it a great takeover target.

Shares of Oncolytics Biotech, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONCY) surged as the company gave it's corporate overview presentation at the 17th Annual BioPartnering Europe conference in London, U.K. on Monday. Oncolytics Biotech shares recently soared soared and hit a multiyear high after the Calgary-based company announced it had received approval to conduct a Phase 3 trial of a treatment for head and neck cancers using the company's Reolysin drug in combination with chemotherapy.

Reolysin uses a naturally occurring human reovirus in a process developed by Oncolytics.

The company is focused on the development of oncolytic viruses as potential cancer treatments.

Shares of RadNet Inc.(NASDAQ:RDNT) have been rising steadily since their early September low of $2.01. RadNet, Inc. operates a group of regional networks comprising 164 diagnostic imaging facilities located in six states with operations in California, Delaware, Maryland, the Treasure Coast area of Florida, Kansas and the Finger Lakes (Rochester) and Hudson Valley areas of New York.

RadNet provides diagnostic imaging services, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), nuclear medicine, mammography, ultrasound, diagnostic radiology, or X-ray, and fluoroscopy. Shares of the company closed at $3.24 +0.18 (5.88%). The company's strong financials have been steadily pushing it upward as they beat street estimates the last two quarters and the guidance for the third quarter calls for continued growth.

Keep an eye on  Vion Pharmaceuticals (OTC: VION). After the bell, Vion announced hat it had hired the investment banking firm Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. to assist in evaluating its strategic alternatives. These alternatives include any combination of a restructuring of the Company and its debt and a sale of the Company or its assets. The Company may also consider financing options. Recently, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), voted in favor of Vion completing a randomized study defining the efficacy and safety of the Company's lead oncology therapeutic Onrigin (laromustine) Injection prior to receiving regulatory approval from the FDA. As Vion would need to raise additional capital to finance a new randomized trial, the Company is evaluating its strategic alternatives. If Vion is unsuccessful in achieving a restructuring, sale, financing or any other strategic transaction or combination thereof, it may have to consider curtailing or ceasing operations or liquidating its assets.

Here are the rest of Columbus Day's Top Winners and Losers in healthcare:

Gainers (% price change) Close Change
Oncolytics Biotech, Inc ONCY 3.48 +0.25 (7.75%)
Elron Electronic ELRN 5.95 +0.38 (6.82%)
Geron Corporation GERN 6.87 +0.41 (6.35%)
RadNet Inc. RDNT 3.24 +0.18 (5.88%)
Metabolix, Inc. MBLX 12.43 +0.69 (5.88%)
Losers (% price change)
DepoMed, Inc. DEPO 3.97 -2.39 (-37.58%)
Sunrise Senior Living SRZ 4.16 -0.61 (-12.79%)
Targacept , Inc. TRGT 18.14 -2.03 (-10.06%)
AVANIR Pharmaceuticals AVNR 2.03 -0.22 (-9.78%)
Novavax, Inc. NVAX 3.67 -0.35 (-8.71%)
Most Actives (dollar volume)
Pfizer Inc. PFE 17.10 +0.18 (1.06%)
Wyeth WYE 49.25 +0.21 (0.43%)
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 62.53 +0.79 (1.28%)
Abbott Laboratories ABT 50.00 -0.08 (-0.16%)
Merck & Co., Inc. MRK 32.86 +0.30 (0.92%)


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