Posted by: Audrey Erbes | November 16, 2014

Provenge Up for Sale Plus Bay Area Life Science Events and Jobs

Bidding for purchase of Provenge (sipuleucel-T), an immunotherapy prostate cancer drug, starts at $275 million. This once anticipated blockbuster is on the chopping blog as the parent company Dendreon files for bankruptcy last Monday. Its launch and subsequent marketing revealed many problems of the company and now raises questions about the medical value of the treatment which, therefore, limits the potential sales. New competitors also have limited its anticipated uptake. The biotech with about $100 million in cash as of Nov. 7 claims it will continue to provide Provenge during its bankruptcy restructuring. Dendreon noted that the restructuring “may take the form of a stand-alone recapitalisation or a sale of the company or its assets.”

The company’s fate serves as warning to other highly debt-financed biopharmas, but also reinforces the critical importance of doing high quality opportunity assessments prior to developing a drug. Such an evaluation needs to include the ease of use of a drug by the medical community that will administer it and, therefore, its realistic uptake and demand alongside the appropriate accompanying pricing and reimbursement. The $91,000 price for therapy was one of the elements in the drug’s failure to attain the $4 billion per year estimated by some analysts.

There are questions about the clinical trial protocols and the supposed believed extension of life for 4 months with Provenge vs. the placebo. The latter may have had less success due to trial design rather than its medical experience.

There is high hope for immunotherapies in cancer and it is maintained. “The reality, however, is that as the oncology community stands on the cusp of a breakthrough with immunotherapies, Provenge is likely to be remembered as a pioneering, but ultimately unsuccessful step towards this revolution.”

Life Science Event Highlights for Week of Nov. 16, 2014

  • BioCentury This Week, See new program Webcast Starting Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014,, Available anytime starting at 9:00 a.m. EDT; Topic:” Money and Medicine: The Sunshine Act;” Speakers: John Murphy, Assistant General Counsel, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); Dr. John Powers, Researcher and Physician, George Washington University and a member of the National Physicians Alliance’s FDA task force; Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Adviser, The CME Coalition
  • PBSS, Monday Afternoon, Nov. 17, 2014; Topic: “Formulation development for therapeutic proteins and antibodies, from preclinical to post-marketing;” Speakers: Robert Kelley (Genentech), Aditya Wakankar (Stem CentRx), Hung-wei Chih (Genentech)
  • Palo Alto AWIS, Wednesday Evening, Nov. 19, 2014; Topic: “Building A Thriving Professional Community Of Vibrant Leaders, One Coach To Protege Match At A Time;” Speaker: Lily Yang,CEO and co-founder of Theralife Corporation
  • BioScience Forum, Wednesday Evening, Nov. 19, 2014; Topic: “Inhibition of Inhibition: Mechanism of CTLA-4 and PD-1-modulating Antibodies for Oncology,” Speaker: Nils Lonberg, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Biologics Discovery, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Thomson Reuters Webcast, Thursday Morning, Nov. 20, 2014; Topic: “The Next Generation of Pathway Analysis for Integrated Omics Data;” Speakers: Chris McKenna, General Manager Discovery Science, Thomson Reuters ; Matt Wampole, Ph.D., Solutions Scientist, Thomson Reuters; Mark Hughes, Ph.D., Senior Product
  • Sharevault Webcast, Thursday Morning, Nov. 20, 2014; Webinar: “The Art & Science of High M&A Valuation”
  • Janssen Labs, Thursday MidDay, Nov. 20, 2014; Topic: “Meet with… Poliwogg;” Poliwogg Participating Representatives: Rania Nasis, MD, Managing Director, Poliwogg | Todd Meyerrose, PhD, Portfolio Manager, Poliwogg

You can download Audreys Picks Nov. 16, 2014 with complete details on the above and other meetings and conferences through March 2015 by right clicking on the highlighted titles. Also see JobsThatCrossedMyDeskThrough Nov. 16, 2014 for your information. I list mostly jobs in California posted in the last three weeks but you can also find national listings at the websites mentioned.



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