The SEC disclosure is only two sentences long, and on the surface doesn't seem that bad:
"On March 6, 2012, Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, informed Oncothyreon
Trial continuing, results next year, what's the big deal? It's that investors were hoping for the data now, today, instantly after the DMC took an interim look at the data, and the delay sent shares of Oncothyreon down 40%.
Ironically, longer cancer drug trials are usually viewed as a good sign for a company. Keryx Biopharmaceuticals'
But when a company builds an interim look into their trial, there's a hope that the trial will be stopped early because the drug is working so well. The lack of an early conclusion also breeds worries that the trial will ultimately fail, which likely contributed to the stock plunge today.
But the way that interim peeks at clinical trial data work is that there's a higher statistical threshold required to stop the trial early, because each time you look at the data, you increase the likelihood of finding what you're looking for. So Stimuvax didn't work really well, but it's still possible that the drug works well enough to ultimately pass the trial when more patients report out next year.
Stimuvax doesn't need superb survival data to get on the market and have meaningful sales. NSCLC patients have few options, and Merck KGaA and Oncothyreon are testing Stimuvax after chemotherapy so it won't have to compete with those drugs. Just barely passing its clinical trial with an incremental increase in survival will be good enough.
On the other hand, there's a reason there a few options: NSCLC is one tough cookie. Beyond Pfizer's
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. 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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