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July 1, 2009
Vanda Comes Back From the Dead
I wrote last summer about Vanda Pharmaceuticals and their difficulty getting a new antipsychotic Fanapt (iloperidone) through the FDA. At the time, they'd received one of those wonderful requests for more information from the agency, of the kind that spread cheer whenever they appear. I couldn't see how the company could clear this up without (probably) having to spend a lot of money that it didn't have, and I was very pessimistic about their survival.
And I was wrong. Big-time. Vanda received approval for iloperidone, in what is a major surprise not just for me, but for the company's hardy shareholders and for the few analysts left covering them. After congratulating the company, I feel like asking them "So, how did you do that, anyway?" To the best of my knowledge, the company didn't go back into the clinic - and it's hard to see how they even could have. Less than a year just isn't feasible from a standing start in an antipsychotic trial just on logistic grounds, let alone the fact that Vanda doesn't seem to have had the funds to even try.
So was this all just a regrettable misunderstanding? And if so, on whose part? Did the FDA misinterpret something, only to be argued back by the company? Or did Vanda mess something up in the original regulatory package? We may never know.
The question now that the dog has caught the mail truck is what to do with it. No deal has been announced yet to market the compound, and Vanda still doesn't seem to have the funds to sell it by itself. (Moreover, they don't seem to be recruiting a sales force). Some observers think that the company may have had time selling itself off, and that the run in the stock was overdone just for that reason.
In the meantime, though, the company should enjoy its good fortune (as should anyone who was holding its stock when the news hit). And readers of this blog should make a note that, in case there was any doubt, I can be completely, totally wrong about the field I work in. . .
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