Dendreon's for sale. Will anyone step up to battle for Provenge?

Just a few days ago, we learned that Dendreon ($DNDN) is looking to woo a buyer. The question now is whether the struggling drugmaker can find a suitor to take on its baggage. 

As Bloomberg points out, the company is deep in the red. Cash is flowing out of Dendreon at a fast pace as the company struggles to boost sales of its prostate cancer drug Provenge. The drug has yet to perform up to expectations--and it faces increasing competition, now that Medivation ($MDVN) and Astellas' Xtandi has taken hold in the market. Plus, Dendreon is saddled with serious debt, with $546 million in bonds due in January 2016.

What the company needs is a buyer sold on Provenge's promise and unafraid of competing with Astellas--not to mention Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), which makes Zytiga, the fast-growing pill for prostate cancer. Said buyer would have to be willing to take on that debt, and to spend plenty to get Dendreon on track. As Roth Capital analyst Joseph Pantginis tells the news service, "There are still many hurdles to overcome."

Skeptics abound. "We view the hiring of JPMorgan and solicitation of bids for a possible sale as an act of desperation," Stifel Financial analyst Joel Sendek wrote in an investor report (as quoted by Bloomberg). Sendek, for one, doesn't expect a bidder to materialize.

It's been a long hard fall for Dendreon, which was full of great expectations as Provenge won approval back in 2010. The drug was expected to be a multibillion-dollar blockbuster, and Dendreon predicted a quick ramp-up in sales. Because of reimbursement problems, competition from Zytiga and other obstacles, that didn't happen. Now, analysts are looking for Provenge to top out at around $500 million. We'll have to wait and see whether some hopeful bidder believes that's enough of a payoff to justify the expense.

- read the Bloomberg story

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