Dendreon Payoff

It finally happened, after years and tens of thousands of deaths that might have been delayed or avoided.

But as late as two days ago, the Dendreon bears were still getting their reporter mouthpieces to put out negative press, as usual, without thinking about what they were printing.

Why is it that so many people reporting on investment topics print stories they get without finding out whether the story makes sense?

Early publicizing of results in an ongoing human study (only the third, so far) might jeopardize release of a drug with sometimes fatal side effects, but this one doesn’t have that.  In fact, the chemo alternative those patients are left with has more than occasional mild side effects.  Virtually everyone getting chemo suffers severely from the drugs themselves.

That’s not to say that there are no side effects.  Also, there’s really no way of knowing until large-scale epidemiological data are available whether deleterious health effects even come from the drug.  After all, these are really sick people in these studies, and, as with most prostate cancer patients, they tend to be getting along in years.

The side effect discussion of the latest study is here.  Most disturbing was the handful of patients who had strokes, but a similar number of patients receiving placebo’s had strokes, as well

“FDA reviewers said safety data showed Provenge, which is given by infusion, was “relatively tolerated.” The most frequent possible side effects included chills, fatigue and back pain.

The agency said, however, it would ask the advisory panel if the frequency of strokes represents “a potential safety signal.” In Dendreon studies, 3.9 percent of patients treated with Provenge had a stroke, compared with 2.6 percent of others who got a placebo, according to a list of questions prepared for the panel.”

Provenge had a unanimous 17-0 safety recommendation back in 2006 and a 14-3 efficacy vote on the review panel, but the small sample size was used as the reason to send them back to the testing phase.

Never mind that the indicated patient base is in dire straights — those whose prostate cancer has already spread to other organs.  Never mind that some of the original patients survived for years afterward, all of whom were judged beyond help when they entered the study.  Never mind that the treatment method promises to revolutionize all cancer treatment, development of a “custom” vaccine that harnesses the patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer.

This is more than a money-making trade for yours truly and others, and more than a dose of good news for prostate cancer patients.  This is the kind of thing that changes how a cancer patient lives while getting treatment, which is almost as important, in my opinion, as the improved survival rate for the patients.


Disclosure: Long the stock, short covered calls.

2 Responses to Dendreon Payoff

  1. Fred says:


    Thanks for the heads-up on DNDN. I sold the May 30 puts @ 3.15 yesterday at the close. Today the buyback is .04. Not a bad rate of return.

    I did not buy the stock or write calls because I did not want the risk inherent in possible bad news.


    • hhill51 says:

      I’m glad you did well. I will say that writing puts can be even more dangerous to your financial health than owning stock. I have those capital losses in my taxable account because I did exactly that (and then went to work at a place where I couldn’t close the positions due to compliance rules).

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