This Bad News Could've Been Worse

It's nice to have multiple drugs in the pipeline.

Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN  ) shares slipped 4% yesterday after the company announced that lintuzumab failed to help older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in a phase 2b trial.

The fall would have been much worse had it not been for the depth of Seattle Genetics' pipeline. After discontinuing the lintuzumab program, Seattle Genetics still has five drugs in the clinic and partnerships with numerous companies: Bayer, Celldex Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CLDX  ) , Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) , AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN  ) , Takeda, and Progenics Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: PGNX  ) .

Investors won't have to wait very long to see how well the rest of the pipeline is progressing. Results from two trials testing its lead compound, brentuximab, are expected within the next six weeks. Data from a trial testing the drug against Hodgkin's lymphoma are expected first, with results from a second trial testing brentuximab against anaplastic large cell lymphoma coming a few weeks later.

If brentuximab bombs, don't expect the same minor haircut. Even though Seattle Genetics has multiple drugs in the pipeline, brentuximab is the most advanced; investors are counting on a filing with the Food and Drug Administration in the first half of next year, with some revenue hopefully coming in by the end of 2011.

Brentuximab is also built on Seattle Genetics' technology of developing antibodies that are attached to a tumor-killing payload. A failure with brentuximab might just signal that the protein that brentuximab targets isn't the best, but it would also raise questions about Seattle Genetics' strategy for killing tumors.

Even after yesterday's drop, Seattle Genetics isn't particularly cheap at a market cap of $1.2 billion, considering it doesn't have any drugs on the market. Unfortunately, if you want multiple shots on goal, you have to pay for them.

Matt Koppenheffer points to five dangerous stocks with one theme in common. Seattle Genetics didn't make the list, but two other drugmakers did.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. 

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline, which is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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