ACT UP SF's targeting of Margaret Fischl, Paul Volberding and Glaxo
Wellcome at a major conference symposium on the use of toxic chemotherapies
like AZT, 3TC and the protease drugs increased the uncertainty among conference
attendees about the effectiveness of these immune suppressive agents. AIDS
activists are demanding that AZT be pulled from the market and vowed to
escalate their direct action tactics to achieve this goal.
The following article dramatically outlines the inner-workings and motives
of the AIDS establishment. The goal here is not to explore all possibilities
of ending this global epidemic but, rather, to create and market "blockbuster"
drugs that increase the profit margins of pharmco investors. Combinations
of expensive, immune suppressive antivirals are being pushed on healthy
HIV-positive asymptomatics, not because the drugs extend life (they don't),
but because the sooner and longer people dose themselves, the more money
firms like BioChem make. It's nothing but a profit-making scam masquerading
as science that, ultimately, KILLS people with AIDS.
Be warned pharmco CEOs...people with AIDS have figured out your scam
and are ready for revolution. Watch your backs and pockets, we are through
taking your shit!
Share price drops 14% amid investor confusion over powerful new
AIDS treatments revealed at Vancouver conference.
By Jennifer Lanthier (Biotechnology Reporter)
Heightened competition in the AIDS drug market is forcing investors
to take a sober second look at the potential for so-called blockbuster
Shares in BioChem Pharma Inc. plunged 14% yesterday amid investor confusion
over information on powerful new treatments coming from the international
AIDS conference in Vancouver.
Other companies such as Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Gilead Sciences
Inc., also saw their share prices fall. But investors, seizing on a few
lines in a U.S. analyst's report on the conference, turned BioChem into
the most dramatic illustration of the effects of information overload and
ill-informed players trying to capitalize on a hot market.
BioChem's fall heightened the widening gap between investors' aggressive
earning expectations and the reality of a marketplace that no longer offers
one or two treatments, but a whole raft of potent and expensive drugs.
Investors in Montreal-based BioChem (BCH/TSE), which developed the AIDS
drug 3TC and licensed it to Glaxo Wellcome PLC, saw its share price tumble
$5.95 to close at $40.05.
More than two million shares changed hands in New York, where the stock
(BCHXF/NASDAQ) closed down US$4 ¾ at US$ 29 ¼.
In March, the stock hit a 52-week high of $69 in Toronto and US$50 ½
Most of the publicity at the week-long conference in Vancouver has centered
on protease inhibitors, a potent new class of drugs.
But it appeared yesterday that investors are reacting to reports that
Glaxo had shown data suggesting its drug, known as 1592, is outperforming
Both therapies belong to a class of treatments called reverse transcriptase
inhibitors. They attack the virus at an earlier stage than the new protease
inhibitors, and most industry experts expect AIDS treatments will continue
to use both classes of drugs in what is called combination therapy.
Glaxo's 1592 is still in the early stages of clinical testing. But it
isn't the first time rumors about the drug have hurt BioChem. A column
about 1592 in Barron's last month sent the company's stock reeling.
Investor reaction forced California-based analyst Ed Hurwitz of underwriter
Robertson Stephens & Co. to release two reports yesterday on the Glaxo
data. His morning report said combination data on 1592 and AZT were "modestly
better than the AZT and 3TC combination."
He tempered his comments by saying 1592 would likely be used with 3TC,
as well as the new protease inhibitors-but the damage had been done. By
late afternoon, Hurwitz issued a second report, saying ne considers BioChem
a "buy" with 1592 having no impact on 3TC sales 1998.
"We believe the Street has grossly misinterpreted the daata and
its implications for BioChem," Hurwitz wrote.
BioChem founder and chief executive Francisco Bellini said it is too
early to compare 3TC and 1592, which is two to three years away from commercialization.
He attributed the drop in BioChem's share price to profit-taking.
Bellini said the latest data on drug sales shows 3TC is now the top-selling
prescription drug in the United States, outselling AZT by 10%. The conference
should bring only good news for BioChem investors, he added.
"Tomorrow there will be several presentations about combination
therapy," Bellini said. "And guess who's always there-3TC."
Analyst Cameron Groome of First Marathon Securities Ltd. said BioChem's
drop shows so-called "momentum players" who jumped on the stock
earlier this year, "thinking it was going to the moon," are now
The market for 3TC is becoming more clearly defined and those investors
are realizing "there are no magic bullets" in AIDS and are getting
out, he said.
Another analyst said the heightened competition will not hurt the shares
prices of big, diverse pharmaceuticals such as Merck & Co. But, he
said, it may pose problems for smaller companies that have staked millions
of dollars in developing AIDS drugs.
And investors may start to question bullish U.S. analysts who have forecast
US$1-billion sales for AIDS drugs, despite the fact that a big chunk of
the patient population lives in developing nations, unable to afford the
$10,000 price tag for a one-year course of treatments.
The silver lining lies in data showing AIDS treatments should be started
as soon as possible, instead of waiting for symptoms to appear.
As well, combination therapy offers the possibility AIDS may become
a long-term, chronic disease. That means patients will start the drugs
sooner, and stay on them longer. *