Fairly strange turn of events surrounding ImClone (NASDAQ:IMCL) today. The formerly scandal-plagued biotechnology company had a sudden spike downward in trading at about 1:45 p.m., shedding almost 20% of its market cap in a matter of minutes. The Nasdaq quickly halted trading in the stock, at a hair under $34 per share -- well below the $43.96 open.

News was imminent. Someone knew something. What was it? Did Martha Stewart sing? Is Sam Waksal coming back from prison to lead ImClone again? No, that couldn't be it. And Martha's travails at this point really only have an impact on her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO).

ImClone has been waiting on news from the Food and Drug Administration as to whether its colorectal cancer drug, Erbitux, has been approved. It was supposed to hear by tomorrow. That must be it... the FDA must have rejected it, right? The people in the know were piling toward the exits!

Wrong. The news -- when it came out a few minutes later -- was in fact about Erbitux, but it wasn't bad. In fact, the FDA approved the drug under the its Accelerated Approval Program, which gives priority to promising drugs that address diseases for which insufficient therapies exist. Approval under this program means there have been positive efficacy results from tests conducted to date. With the approval, ImClone has its first commercial product, which will be distributed by Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY).

We'll see what happens to the shares when trading is reopened. I would suspect they would leap -- even though, at a $2.5 billion market capitalization, ImClone has plenty of market success already priced into its stock. People who hold biotech companies such as ImClone invest in the hope of approvals like the one today for Erbitux. With almost a million shares traded in the 15 minutes before the halt, more than a few people got to the last second before they panicked and ran. It looks like they were wrong.

If you're going to hold a lottery ticket like ImClone stock, you might as well hold it until all of the numbers have been read.

Bill Mann has no financial interest in any company mentioned in this article.