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SuperGen shares tumble on talk of cancer drug delay
LOS ANGELES, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Shares of SuperGen Inc. fell more than 20 percent on Thursday after a Wall Street analyst said the pharmaceutical company's launch of a new pancreatic cancer drug was likely to be delayed.
Shares of the San Ramon, Calif. company dropped $6-11/16 to $21 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. The stock has a 52-week high of 77-5/16 and a low of 19.
Prudential Securities analyst Peter Drake on Thursday cut his investment rating on SuperGen to hold from strong buy, citing organisational problems with clinical trials of the company's late-stage cancer drug Rubitecan.
``We are downgrading SuperGen...based on growing concerns over the clinical progress of lead compound Rubitecan, the company's oral anti-tumour candidate for pancreatic cancer and the primary force behind our valuation of SuperGen shares,'' Drake said in a report.
Previously, the outlook for SuperGen assumed fourth quarter 2000 completion of an advanced trial of the drug, filing for marketing approval by first or second quarter 2001, and approval in the second half of 2001, but it now seems that the drug will not be launched until late 2002, the analyst said.
Officials at SuperGen could not be reached for comment.
The Prudential analyst attributed the expected delay to ``significant issues in managing'' the 1,800-patient multicenter trial, including problems with keeping patients within the trial parameters.
He added that SuperGen management has indicated that as many as 10-15 percent of the patients are currently ineligible for study inclusion due to protocol violations.
this general uncertainty, we understand from industry contacts that partner
Abbott Laboratories is concerned over the progress of the trial. SUPG
management confirmed this with us yesterday,'' Drake said.
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