Bay Area Biotech Firm Crushing Cancer

Onyx Pharma gets the good news

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    FAYETTEVILLE, NC - JUNE 17: A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center June 17, 2003 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Innovations in cancer treatment, such as more precise doses for chemotherapy drugs and high-tech radiation machines, are making the treatment of the disease more effective than ever. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

    It's the kind of news people sit up and notice: Positive results from a cancer drug. So encouraging, in fact, that Emeryville-based Onyx Pharmaceuticals will send its cancer-fighting drug, called carfilzomib, to the FDA for fast-track approval.

    The possibilities are big: Onyx says this drug, which is used to fight multiple myeloma, could be in the "blockbuster" category, with sales close to a billion dollars. Patients are encouraged and investors are jumping on board.

    Onyx shares (ONXX), which typically rise and fall with news about their drugs, are spiking on the news. This is often the case with small biotech companies. Big stock moves, and frankly, not for the faint of heart. It's also good news for employees who will be rewarded, at least in the short term, for work that typically takes a very long time to bear fruit.

    There has been progress recently in treating multiple myeloma, but sadly, patients typically relapse. Carfilzomib, in its tests, worked on a number of patients who had previously seen treatments fail.  Onyx is not claiming to have the disease licked, by any stretch, but is encouraged about the future of its drug, and the company. Onyx CEO Tony Coles says the drug "has the potential to be an important therapy .. and exemplifies the Onyx vision to build a leading oncology company."

    There are still many milestones for this drug to pass before it's an unqualified success, and again, a jump in the stock price of a company like Onyx may - if history is any guide -  be short-lived.  Be careful about investing, if you're worried about spikes and dips.  But if you're looking at a cancer-fighting play, this is a growing company, with some very good news.

    Scott Budman loves biotech stories.  Send them his way on Twitter:  @scottbudman