Poniard Pharmaceuticals Reports First Quarter Financials, Picoplatin Update

OBTNMay 2010
Volume 4
Issue 5

Poniard Pharmaceuticals, a South San Francisco, California-based biopharmaceutical company, has reported a net loss of $11.9 million for the first quarter of 2010, which ended March 31. In comparison, Poniard reported a net loss of $13.0 million for the same time period in 2009. With cash and investment securities totaling $38.3 million at the quarter’s end, management nevertheless believes the company has the necessary resources to fund company operations “at least through the end of 2010.”

The company also released final data from its phase II prostate cancer trial for picoplatin, a cytotoxic platinum compound in development for treating patients with solid tumors. The agent causes apoptosis by binding to DNA and interfering with DNA replication and transcription. Data from the phase II trial found that picoplatin, when added to docetaxel (Taxotere) and prednisone in first-line therapy for patients with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer, demonstrated median overall survival (OS) of 21.4 months, median progression-free survival of 7.4 months, and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) response rate of 78%. Published literature indicates a median OS benefit of 18.9 months and a PSA response of 45% for treatment with docetaxel and prednisone alone.

The company also announced that data from the phase III SPEAR (Study of Picoplatin Efficacy After Relapse) trial, which evaluated the safety and efficacy of the agent as a second-line treatment in small cell lung cancer, will be presented during the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago this coming June.

“In recent months, we have taken action to strengthen our financial position and focus our resources on identifying an effective path for the continued development of picoplatin in multiple indications,” said Ronald A. Martell, CEO of Poniard, in a company-issued statement. “The data generated to date underscore picoplatin’s potential efficacy and safety in a variety of solid tumors, and we are currently developing registration strategies for picoplatin in lung, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Concurrent with this effort, we are continuing to explore strategic alternatives to support and optimize the value of the picoplatin program for our shareholders.”

To that end, the company implemented several strategic initiatives during the first quarter of 2010, including developing key clinical strategies for picoplatin in indications including lung, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancers. The initiatives included a change in management, reduction of Poniard’s workforce, and performance of a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives, including a potential capital raise, merger, sale, or partnership.

Other reported financial results for the first quarter, which ended March 31, 2010, included total operating expenses of $11.3 million compared with $12.2 million for the first quarter of 2009. The 2010 first quarter operating expenses detailed a charge of $1.6 million related to two reductions in the company’s staff. Research and development expenses for the first quarter of 2010 were $4.9 million, compared with $8.2 million in 2009. The company also received net proceeds of approximately $6.1 million through the sale of more than 4.2 million shares of common stock to Commerce Court Small Cap Value Fund, Ltd.

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