With the rest of the market dropping, the news hasn’t been any better for the cancer stocks lately, with the exception of Pharmacyclics (PCYC) last week.. Due in part to the down market and the FDA’s refusal to approve any of the new breed of cancer treatments, the immunotherapy vaccines, the associated stocks have taken a beating, especially for the one trick wonders such as Genitope (GTOP).


Russia gave cancer patients, and investors, some hope earlier this year when they approved Oncophage, a kidney cancer vaccine produced by Antigenics (AGEN), for distribution and use in Russia. The drug did not meet muster for the US FDA, so Antigenics looked overseas for approval, maybe the beginning of a trend for these small biotechs looking to get their new immunotherapy treatments approved.


Unlike Dendreon (DNDN), who received an approvable letter from the FDA last year, Pharmacyclics (PCYC) received a non-approvable letter regarding their lung cancer drug Xcytrin, intended for use in patients who have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with brain metastases. After the mid-December FDA decision, the stock dropped considerably, and traded for under a buck for a while. As I’ve stated before, I like companies that have more than one drug in the pipeline, for the reasons we see here with PCYC. If one drug gets the no-go, you get a good chance to recoup losses with updates on the remaining drugs.


Since Pharmacyclics has four additional drugs in the pipeline, albeit in the early stages of clinical trials, any updates on these drugs can provide a nice bounce in the stock price.


While taking losses after the bad news on Xcytrin, those that loaded up on PCYC while it traded under a buck made out pretty good this week when updates on the Phase I/II trial of Motexafin launched the share price into the $1.70s, making for a nice 70% gain for those who sold at or near the high.


Admittedly, VFC didn’t sell in the $1.70s, and only sold a small amount in the $1.50 range, but I’ve got the patience to hold onto this one and wait for additional updates on the pipeline.


Since the news released was for Phase I/II clinical trial updates, and the drug still has a long ways to go before a possible NDA with the FDA, the stock should drop down to near a buck after some profit taking, at which point it will be a good time for VFC to continue accumulating PCYC.


In the meantime, it sure was good to look at something green in the portfolio last week while the market was going DOWN DOWN DOWN!


The good thing about Down, though, is while the weak hands sell, there’s some pretty good bargains created for those that like to go hunting!


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