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Human Genome Sciences Inc. Message Board

  • paulieme60 paulieme60 Jun 29, 2009 1:35 AM Flag

    Washington Post, June 29, 2009 NEWS

    HGS Hoping to Survive Final Test of Lupus Drug
    Firm Is Upbeat Despite the Odds By Michael S. Rosenwald
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, June 29, 2009 In the high-stakes, high-risk, high-failure business of developing drugs, there are two events that test an executive's intestinal fortitude. One: The first time a drug is tried by a human. Is he still alive? Two: Getting results of final-stage testing. Please, let it have worked.

    Around eight years ago, Human Genome Sciences survived the first event, when patients were first given the firm's experimental lupus treatment. Sometime in July, and many hundreds of millions of dollars later, they will gather in a hotel conference room to see how they endured the second crucial event -- final human testing results. David Stump, the firm's head of drug development, is hoping the first PowerPoint slide the biostatistician shows will say success.
    "The consensus out there may be that we shouldn't count on it working, but that doesn't change the prospect of it working," Watkins said. "Our chances of success are independent of what the market thinks." Later in the interview, he said, "It will succeed, it will succeed," almost like a mantra.

    The stakes for HGS and lupus patients are enormous. For the company, it would be a significant validation of the founding principles of genomic medicine, but more importantly it would provide a much-needed source of revenue for a firm whose only product on the market is a treatment for anthrax. A lupus drug has the potential to become a billion-dollar drug. HGS is also working on a treatment for hepatitis C, though that drug has also been criticized by some analysts.

    Hanging over HGS's head: About $400 million in convertible debt due in 2011 and 2012 if the company's shares don't trade for more than $15. HGS shares are currently trading for under $3. Analysts who are less negative about the company's prospects for success in lupus say a positive study result could send the shares over $20. "In our view, this could be a tremendous opportunity if the data is positive," Citigroup analyst Yaron Werber recently told investors.

    Then there's the lupus patients, who haven't had a new drug in five decades and who currently take a combination of drugs with serious side effects. "The patients are very excited," said Sandra Raymond, president of the Lupus Foundation of America. "They have waited a long time, so this is a very exciting prospect. I believe we will have a new medication for lupus, and it will start with this drug."

    Stump, the drug development chief hoping for that positive first PowerPoint slide, said: "Heaven knows these patients need something different." Everyone will know soon.

    To long to copy full article. Here is the link!

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