No word from Genentech as drug data piles in

Hear that? It's the sound of silence coming from Genentech headquarters. Five days after Roche raised its bid for the company to $93 per share--and two days after reports that they'd agreed on a price--there's still no press release and no advice for DNA shareholders. 

Roche isn't chatting much, either, except to say that Genentech's asking price of $112 per share isn't "realistic." Meanwhile, we've been watching both stocks gyrate as investors bet for and against the deal. At least one firm has downgraded Genentech; Robert W. Baird reset its target price to $95 from $100, saying that there's little chance that Genentech will rise much from its current $93-ish level (at press time, the stock stood at just over $91). 

As if to underline Roche's need for Genentech, however, the company released new data that it says "confirms Herceptin's promise of extra years of living cancer-free." Roche and Breast International Group presented data from an ongoing, 5,000-patient study showing that women with HER2-positive breast cancer continued to benefit from Herceptin treatment for several years afterward. After four years, almost 90 percent of the patients given Herceptin were still alive, and these women saw a 25 percent reduction in the risk of their cancer coming back.

Herceptin, of course, was developed by Genentech. Another Genentech-developed cancer drug, Avastin, is up for FDA review at the end of this month, for a new use in patients with previously treated brain cancer. Important data on Avastin in colon cancer is due next month. Could any of this persuade Roche to up its bid further? Perhaps to $100-plus? Some observers think so. What about you?

- see the story in the San Francisco Chronicle
- read the stock news at NewRatings
- get the PharmaTimes article on Herceptin
- find the Avastin story from Dow Jones