Key Developments for Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:SPPI), Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq:HGSI) and Hemispherix Biopharma (Amex:HEB) Print E-mail
By M.E.Garza   
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 07:10

Regular readers and subscribers know that we have tracking the developments at Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:SPPI) via articles and our FDA Decisions and Clinical Trails Calendar for some time. Our coverage of the stock began in early may when shares were trading at $2.50, with high hopes that shares would continue to rise based on multiple criteria including the fact that the company had 2 pending FDA decisions. In the last 24 hours, things have gotten even more interesting.

The first of two drugs had regulators is scheduled to make a decision on July 2 on SPPI's non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma radio-immunotherapeutic, Zevalin, but shares pulled back after the FDA asked for additional information from the company. Since Zevalin is already approved as a treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory, low-grade or follicular B-cell NHL, industry insiders have told us that they feel good about the chances for the drug's approval for the additional use of Zevalin to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

Yesterday, there was a key development in this story line.  Spectrum announced that U.S. health regulators accepted for review the company's response on its experimental cancer drug, Zevalin, as a Class 1 submission -- which typically means the regulators will review the drug within 60 days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now set Sept. 7 as its decision date on the drug the company said.

On October 8th, SPPI will seek approval for yet another cancer drug, Fusilev.  Like Zevalin, Fusilev is also already approved by the FDA for osteosarcoma or bone cancer, which SPPI obtained in early 2008.

Justin Hall has been tracking the company in detail and in his June 12 article, he indicated the company could likely generate $280 million in annual revenue within the next 12-18 months upon approval of both the company's cancer drugs Zevalin and Fusilev.

If you're interested in price targets for the company, you may want to read this article from June 26th.

Yesterday, my own interest in the company was piqued after learning that that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for the investigation of apaziquone (EOquin(R)) for the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, a form of bladder cancer localized in the surface layers of the bladder that has not spread to the deeper muscle layer. Approximately 70% of all newly diagnosed patients with bladder cancer have non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. More than one million patients in the United States and Europe are estimated to be affected by the disease.

Experienced Biotech investors will tell you that "Fast Track" status is a BIG "go ahead" sign that should make all investors take special notice of the company.  To put it in the most simple terms, accelerated review will usually mean that the drug is either "fantastic" or that it can be used with a great deal of restrictions.

In this case, it means that SPPI's apaziquone is getting some terrific results and investors want to own a company whose accelerated review comes from exactly this type of scenario.

"We are pleased that the FDA has accepted apaziquone under its Fast Track program," said Rajesh C. Shrotriya, MD, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Spectrum Pharmaceuticals. "In a marker lesion study, where patients had previously failed multiple therapies, apaziquone produced a 67% complete response and was well-tolerated. We look forward to continuing with Phase 3 studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of apaziquone, while working with the FDA to expedite the drug's development, review and approval process so we can help address the substantial unmet needs of patients suffering from non-muscle invasive bladder cancer."

Fast Track designation is designed to facilitate drug development and expedite the review of drugs intended to treat serious conditions and demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. The purpose is to get important new drugs to the patient earlier. Fast Track addresses a broad range of serious diseases. Once a drug receives Fast Track designation, early and frequent communication between the FDA and a drug company is encouraged throughout the entire drug development and review process. The frequency of communication facilitates the sponsor's ability to expeditiously address questions and issues. A drug that receives Fast Track designation is eligible for a Rolling Review, which means that a drug company can submit completed sections of its New Drug Application (NDA) for review by FDA, rather than waiting until every section of the application is completed before the entire application can be reviewed. NDA review usually does not begin until the drug company has submitted the entire application to the FDA.

I urge you to become familiar with SPPI, just as I told you to do with Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:HGSI) weeks ago.

If you missed it, HGSI shares shot up from the $3 range to over $12 yesterday, after the company announced that its BENLYSTA(TM) met the primary endpoint in BLISS-52, the first of two pivotal Phase 3 trials in patients with serologically active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

As Hemispherix Biopharma's (AMEX:HEB) Dr. William Carter would say, there are "multiple shots on goal" here.

Speaking of Dr. Carter, his company announced yesterday that it will provide an update on its Influenza research initiatives via a teleconference. Initiatives to be discussed will include experimental programs planned or underway in Pacific Rim countries, Australia, South America and the United States. Background information may be sourced at Wall Street Journal, July 18/19, 2009, p. A3.  Shares of the company could see another rise, depending on the specific items and revelations that may be made during the call.  Hemispherx's Medical Director and the Managing Director of the Sage Group, a health care consulting firm retained by HEB, will participate in the call as well.

There has been much discussion about the participation of Hemispherx's Ampligen(r) (poly I: poly C12U) role in the N1H1 Flu pandemic, not as a vaccine- which some bio tech writers still don't seem to understand- but as a possible adjuvent (booster) to a vaccine.

According to the company, investigational products and protocols to be discussed will also include Hemispherx's Ampligen(r) (poly I: poly C12U), and Alferon N (a natural cocktail of alpha 2 type interferons, FDA approved for treatment of refractory HPV) and Alferon LDO, an experimental formulation of Alferon-N for oral delivery.

The teleconference will take place on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at 10:00 AM EDT. Initiatives to be discussed will include experimental programs planned or underway in Pacific Rim countries, Australia, South America and the United States. Background information may be sourced at Wall Street Journal, July 18/19, 2009, p. A3.

The company is still waiting for a decision from the FDA on the approval of Ampligen as a treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The FDA has not asked the company for additional information or data in regards to that pending NDA decision.

FDA Designates Fast Track Status for Apaziquone (EOquin®) for Bladder Cancer

FDA Accepts for Review Spectrum’s Response on ZEVALIN as a Class 1 Submission

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SPPI): Betsy de Parry’s Story, Video, and More

Hemispherx Biopharma to Provide Update On Global Pandemic Influenza Prevention / Treatment Initiatives

Exclusive Interview: Dr. William A. Carter, CEO. Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. (AMEX:HEB)

Disclosure: Long SPPI

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