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Coulter Lymphoma Drug Sparks High Hopes

October 21, 1998|(Bloomberg News)

Coulter Pharmaceutical Inc.'s Bexxar drug could be a breakthrough therapy for low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, said analysts whom the company briefed on late-stage clinical trials of the medication. A study of 60 patients treated first with traditional chemotherapy agents, and with Bexxar after they relapsed from the earlier treatment, found that 78% had a longer-lasting response from the Bexxar course than they did from chemotherapy, said Robert Toth, an analyst with Vector Securities International, one of the analysts. That's a significant finding because low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma kills patients by wearing them down over several years and courses of treatment, which become less and less effective, analysts said. Toth predicts the drug will win U.S. approval, with annual global sales of $240 million in 2002. "I'm bowled over," said Toth, who has a "buy" recommendation on shares of Palo Alto-based Coulter. "For the first time in the history of this disease, we have a drug that's able to reverse the cascade of diminishing response durations as patients move down in their treatment regimens." Analysts said they expect Coulter shares to surge today after the results are disclosed. "There's never been a therapy that's shown a response rate of this magnitude," said Thomas Dietz, a Pacific Growth Equities analyst.

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