The AML pipeline – New approaches starting to bear fruit

AML (Acute myeloid leukemia) remains one of the few blood cancers in which no progress has been made for decades. This is in contrast to other blood cancers where novel treatments have turned fatal conditions into chronic diseases with long term remissions. Prominent examples are CML, which today has a low mortality rate and multiple myeloma where median survival is approaching 8 years and counting. The recent launch of Imbruvica and Gazyva followed by the anticipated approval of ABT-199 is expected to have a similar impact on CLL as well as on certain subtypes of B cell lymphoma. Continue reading

Epizyme – The dark side of the biotech IPO bubble

On a standalone basis, phase I results presented by Epizyme (EPZM) for its lead program, EPZ-5676, were not as negative as market reaction implies. The company was able to dose escalate through several cohorts without serious side effects, demonstrate target modulation in humans and show mild signs of efficacy. For a typical biotech company, that would be considered a reasonable phase I data package, given the possibility to explore higher potentially more efficacious doses. Unfortunately, an early stage biotech company with a market cap of ~$1B based purely on preclinical results and hype is anything but typical. Continue reading

2 affordable biotech IPOs – Ambit and Esperion

2013 will be remembered as one of the strongest years for biotech IPOs, with over 30 successful offerings year to date. A lot has been written on the biotech IPO boom and what will be the long term consequences. My personal view is ambiguous. On the one hand, most if not all of the companies that went public are “IPO worthy”: They are innovative, address medical unmet needs and are run by capable management teams. On the other, I find it extremely hard to justify the valuations of many of the companies. What is even more frustrating is the fact that the ones with the most exciting technologies and belong to my coverage universe are also the most ridiculously priced. Agios (AGIO), Oncomed (OMED), Blue Bird (BLUE) and Epizyme (EPZM) are all good examples for great companies whose stocks are way too expensive. Continue reading