Shares of Dendreon (DNDN) soared Thursday after a congressional trio sought an investigation of an FDA panel that voted against the company's prostate cancer drug, Provenge. Shares jumped more than 23% after CNBC reported the probe request. There has been no word yet from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee, as to whether he will launch an investigation. The trio alleges at least two of the FDA advisory members had conflicts of interest. According to a letter they wrote to Dingell, Howard Scher, a FDA panel member, is a lead investigator for a cancer drug made by Novacea Inc. (OTCQB:NOVC), and is also an advisor to a large VC firm that is a major Novacea investor.
Provenge is the first cancer drug to seek FDA approval that attempts to fight cancer through the body's immune system; other drugs attack the cancer cells directly. The debate surrounding Provenge focused on the fact that it failed to meet its primary goal of reducing the advancement of cancer, although it lengthened survival rates. Unusually small trial samples was another criticism.
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