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Why Dendreon Shares Leaped Out of the Gate

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Dendreon (NASDAQOTH: DNDNQ  ) , a biotechnology company focused on developing treatments to various types of cancer, advanced as much as 19% following a Bloomberg News report that the company is seeking a buyer.

So what: According to Bloomberg News, and people familiar with the matter, Dendreon has reportedly hired JPMorgan Chase to act as its adviser and to help it seek out a potential suitor. This news comes just weeks after Dendreon announced that its lead drug, Provenge -- an immunotherapy vaccine used to treat advanced prostate cancer -- would not see sales increase from the previous year in the United States. However, Provenge was also approved in the EU just six weeks ago.

Now what: Could this be Dendreon's last gasp? It's tough to see what a suitor would want in Dendreon given that Provenge sales have disappointed in a monstrous way (peak sales estimates have fallen nearly 90% from their all-time highs), and given the fact that Provenge's $93,000 price tag has a tendency to push patients, physicians, and insurers toward competing drugs like Johnson & Johnson's Zytiga and Medivation's Xtandi, which are less expensive. There could, however, still be value in Dendreon's proprietary pipeline of immunotherapy vaccines, which a company with deeper pockets and/or strong partnerships could manage much better than Dendreon has. Yet, current shareholders shouldn't be expecting Dendreon to rocket to the moon on these buyout rumors as this has all the makings of a desperation move by management.

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Sean Williams

A Fool since 2010, and a graduate from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Economics, Sean specializes in the healthcare sector and investment planning. You'll often find him writing about Obamacare, marijuana, drug and device development, Social Security, taxes, retirement issues and general macroeconomic topics of interest.

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