Cancer is never a good thing, but obviously, cancer treatments are. It's been hard to ignore the lure of cancer drugs over the last several days. Today, ImClone (NASDAQ:IMCL) shares leapt after the company reported stellar first-quarter profits, boosted by its launch of colon cancer drug Erbitux.

Yesterday, it was Genentech (NYSE:DNA) and OSI Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OSIP), the latter rising astronomically on super-upbeat study results about its small-cell lung cancer drug, Tarceva.

ImClone reported net income of $62.7 million, or diluted earnings of $0.76 per share, compared to a net loss of $34.8 million, or $0.47 per share, in the same quarter last year. Revenues increased more than 500% to $109.6 million, compared to $19.6 million last year -- a taste of the payoff many investors have been waiting for. Sales included a $250 million milestone payment from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY).

ImClone has, of course, carried more than its fair share of infamy. Its role in Martha Stewart's downfall is well-known. Investors are easily spooked by it, as was recently dramatized by its mysterious plunge before the FDA's approval of Erbitux. Our own Paul Elliott believed in the possibilities of the cancer treatment early on and has held on to his stake in ImClone through thick and thin.

If one thing's impressive, it's the rapid rate at which Erbitux has contributed to ImClone's fortunes. The FDA only just approved the drug in February, and with ImClone's first quarter ending March 31, it has quickly begun adding to earnings. In addition to the milestone payment and royalties, Erbitux sales totaled $17.5 million. Indeed, the company said in its statement, "We were pleased with the sales of Erbitux in just over five weeks of product shipments during the quarter, as they appear to indicate that physicians are rapidly integrating this first-of-its-kind antibody into patients' treatment regimens."

In pre-market trading, the stock skyrocketed 10%, but has since come down to earth -- the company said, not surprisingly, that it wouldn't be prudent to give guidance on revenues yet and that future earnings will be lower, though it expects to remain profitable.

Meanwhile, yesterday's Tarceva news showed up Erbitux to some extent -- that study implied Tarceva may extend life expectancy in lung cancer patients; both drugs, which treat cancer according to the same principles, will be studied for efficacy in different types of cancers.

Many people think too much enthusiasm is already priced into ImClone shares. They have risen 67%, more than doubling the company's market cap, since Erbitux was approved in late February. Today's preliminary surge was a knee-jerk reaction to an admittedly upbeat sign, but the reality is, the time this stock was a bargain seems long behind us.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned.