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Is Provenge the Drug That Even Dendreon Is Having Issues Affording–Laying Off 500

Posted Sep 08 2011 8:33pm

This is the latest chapter with the biotech company which has had a long running soap opera to say the least.  In addition the COO will be leaving.  It was just last month the CEO dumped a bunch of stock before announcing they were not going to be even close to goal.  I guess the Medicare ruling that they will still pay for the $93k treatment still stands or will other treatments, such as the new J and J drug move up in the ranks, which is less expensive but still costs money.   I had a reader write to me about Zytiga and said he had insurance but it was still going to cost him $25,000 for his treatment, again with insurance coverage of some sort. 

The FDA has just approved the opening of another facility in Atlanta, so will it open?  I’m sure that approval process was long in the works before August arrived with the gloom news about the drug.  In addition Sermo and Fierce Pharma also ran a survey to get the word straight from the doctors about how they felt about prescribing the medication for prostate cancer patients and reimbursement issues mattered. 

So what remains of Provenge moving in the mainstay with immunotherapy drugs I think remains to be seen.  There are other companies using the same immunotherapy processes in biotech to create similar types of drugs, and the cost associated with some of those are yet to be seen, but one thing after all of this that we know now, the drugs need to be affordable and covered by insurance.  In the meantime, the country still faces shortages for the workhorse chemotherapy drugs across the US that “are” affordable.  BD 

(Reuters) - Dendreon Corp said on Thursday it would cut 500 jobs as it seeks to trim expenses in light of diminished sales expectations for its high-priced Provenge prostate cancer vaccine.

The total employee-related cost of the restructuring is expected to be about $21 million, the company said, citing a need to align staffing "with the shift in the (Provenge) launch trajectory and meet the company's manufacturing requirements."

Investors appeared to be pleased by the moves, sending Dendreon shares up more than 4 percent in extended trading.

"Their SG&A (Sales, General and Administrative) cuts are more than expected and will mean $120 million in SG&A savings," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee.

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