What Kind of Phase 2 Drug Can You Get for $5 Million?

I just don't get Cell Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CTICD  ) . The company is trying to gain Food and Drug Administration approval of its cancer drug pixantrone. The agency turned down the drug, but the company appealed and earned itself another review. It still seems like a long shot to me, but I can't blame them for trying. Gaining FDA approval by running another trial is a long and tedious process.

But then Cell Therapeutics issues a press release yesterday saying the company has "identified a potential acquisition opportunity that is a phase II drug candidate." Really? Does the company need a backup for pixantrone that badly?

And what's the point of spouting off that you've identified a potential acquisition target. Cell Therapeutics mentions that the target is in the field of cancer immunotherapy, seemingly trying to play off the success of Dendreon (Nasdaq: DNDN  ) . Don't buy the hype, Fools.

How the heck is Cell Therapeutics going to pay for this drug? It's not as if the company is flush with cash. By my calculations, Cell Therapeutics has less than $50 million in its coffers right now. The company had $43.8 million at the end of last quarter, raised $16 million by selling stocks and warrants, and paid off $10.6 million of debt since then.

Elan (NYSE: ELN  ) had to pony up $20 million upfront plus another $30 million in research support to gain access to Proteostasis Therapeutics' drug discovery pipeline. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) paid $14 million upfront for access to LPath's eye drug that hadn't even entered phase 2 development. Anything that Cell Therapeutics could license in the $5 million to $10 million range, which is all the company could really afford at the moment, likely isn't worth the effort.

There's a possibility Cell Therapeutics might try to raise additional cash to pay for a drug, but I certainly hope not. The company recently performed a reverse stock split in order to get the share price above $1 -- thus the temporary ticker change from CTIC to CTICD -- but shares aren't that far from hitting that level again. Further dilution isn't advisable.

Cell Therapeutics could be the next Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI  ) miracle story, but just keep in mind that for every HGS, there are multiple biotechs like La Jolla Pharmaceutical and Genta trading for pennies on the OTC boards.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Pfizer and Elan. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2011, at 2:39 PM, jonesnj0 wrote:

    Wow I think its 60 Million Not 5 Million in Payments your sure seem like A Basher Rag to Me!

    Secondly you have Bashed Pixantrone repeatedly

    Do these Look Like Bad results?

    Pixantrone has a 24% C/R (Thats No Trace of Cancer) and a 2 Year S/R all over any other Chemo Drugs available Including Dox!

    There were no survivors on the Non Pixantrone Control arm!

    None!

    Are you short or are you part of the Short Bashing crowd?

    Either way you lost any once of credibility you had left,

    Your right up there with Adam F Congratulations!

    Why Bash A Company and a drug that is trying to save lives!

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