Saturday, April 21, 2007

Neurochem (NRMX)

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David Miller

Keep an eye out on Neurochem (NRMX) today. The option prices have been very high on this one because it has become yet another battleground stock in the biotech sector. The company’s Alzheimer drug, Alzhemed, has been derided and praised on Wall Street, and the biotech bulls and bears have been shooting the heck out of one another for months in the name.

This morning the company announced, in quite an impressive press release, that their primary analysis of the trial had failed. They blame imbalances between the treatment arms for confounding the results. They are going to an alternate analysis, which we presume is a Cox regression analysis, that has the ability to account for and correct those imbalances.

The problem is that when a primary analysis fails, the FDA can choose to ignore any subsequent analyses. The company is careful to say in their press release that the Cox analysis was prespecified, but there can be a great deal of variation in what “prespecified” means in terms of what the FDA might accept.

Bottom line is the trial failed at the first look and it will take several weeks to get it straightened out.

Look for options players to start rolling their May positions out a strike or two and for the action in the stock to be wild. Is this the next Dendreon (DNDN)? I doubt it but we have to wait and see what the data are and hope we can get a straight story from management on exactly how “prespecified” this Cox analysis was.

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