Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



An Ounce of Prevention Gets Shot Down

Don't let it get away!

Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.

Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's also worth big bucks.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) will be able to partake.

Merck and Glaxo are trying to get their prostate drugs -- Proscar and Avodart respectively -- approved to prevent prostate cancer. Both are currently approved to shrink enlarged prostates, but preventing cancer would open up a whole new area of potential sales.

But both got shot down by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel yesterday. Proscar was rejected by a unanimous vote. Avodart fared better, but only by a little: The vote was 14-2 that the drug's benefits didn't outweigh the risks.

In clinical trials, the drugs decreased incidence of low-grade prostate cancer tumors by nearly 25%. But the men in the study got high-grade tumors at a higher rate. The benefit of preventing less-severe tumors that are often not fatal didn't outweigh the possibility that the drugs were causing a small number of high-grade tumors that are often deadly.

Ironically, considering the data, advanced prostate cancer drugs such as sanofi-aventis' (NYSE: SNY  ) Taxotere and Dendreon's (Nasdaq: DNDN  ) Provenge might actually benefit if the FDA approves Merck's and Glaxo's preventative drugs, if they in fact lead to an increase in the number of advanced prostate cancer cases.

The low-grade tumors are usually treated with radiation or surgery, so not having a drug on the market that prevents them will mostly benefit doctors that perform the procedures, as well as companies such as General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) and Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) that make radiation and surgical equipment.

The FDA has the final say, but considering the opinion of the panel of outside experts, I doubt the agency will approve the drugs. Merck and Glaxo will have to be satisfied with their current roles treating enlarged prostates.

Stock prices enlarged? Use options to prevent losses. Here's how.

Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on GlaxoSmithKline, which is a Motley Fool Global Gains choice. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1387913, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2016 5:00:35 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

12/31/1969 7:00 PM
DNDNQ $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Dendreon Corp CAPS Rating: *
GE $28.98 Down -0.09 -0.31%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
GSK $41.13 Down -0.30 -0.72%
GlaxoSmithKline CAPS Rating: ***
ISRG $678.02 Down -3.80 -0.56%
Intuitive Surgical CAPS Rating: ****
MRK $61.20 Down -0.72 -1.16%
Merck and Co. CAPS Rating: ****
SNY $37.75 Down -0.32 -0.84%
Sanofi CAPS Rating: *****