Investors in biotechnology companies follow their investments closely. Therefore, they appreciate the knowledge that a clinical trial, previously announced by management to be in planning, is now actually up and running. That’s a tangible milestone and allows investors to better formulate their perception of a management team’s ability to execute.
But then, sometimes, one meaningful press release can turn into a dozen. Or can it? Consider the time line of Cardio3 and the opening of their European phase 3 trial, Chart 1.
November 22, 2012 - Cardio3 announces opening of Chart 1.
And there was much rejoicing.
June 10, 2013 - Cardio3 announces treatment of first patient in Chart 1.
Ok. It is one thing to establish the protocol and organization of the clinical trial, and now we get confirmation that an actual patient has been enrolled. It is appreciated. Thank you. Now go out there and execute execute execute!
September 30, 2013 - Cardio3 announces world’s first phase 3 trial in regenerative medicine for heart failure… in Spain.
Hmm… wait, is this another trial? In this short time did they manage to open another trial apart from Chart 1? Well, no. Chart 1 now has the occasion to enroll eligible patients in Spain.
October 23, 2013 - Cardio3 announces that Chart 1 can now enroll patients in Italy.
Surely they’re not going to announce the opening of a center in each and every new country under the jurisdiction of the EMA?
November 12, 2013 - Cardio3 announces, among other things, that Chart 1 can now enroll patients in Poland.
Maybe we are. And don’t call us Shirley.
April 10, 2014 - Cardio3 announces that Chart 1 can now enroll patients in Ireland.
Fair play. These lads are sound.
June 10, 2014 - Cardio3 announces that Chart 1 can now enroll patients in Sweden.
Heja Sverige! *
October 13, 2013 - Cardio3 announces that Chart 1 can now enroll patients in Switzerland.
Watch your back, Novartis.
One can reasonably argue whether all of these PRs were needed. Cardio3 do make tangible announcements of the trial being 50% enrolled as well as 100% enrolled. But it is reasonable to ask the company what the significance was of each of these territorial openings? Maybe. Maybe not.
And sometimes, fluffy PRs aren’t limited to trial site openings. To wit:
March 26, 2014 - Cardio3 announces that their investigational therapy was mentioned in a review published in Nature Reviews Cardiology.
This is great. You always want independent recognition of your work within the community. But wait. Could it be that one of those authors once worked at Cardio3? Could it be that two of those authors, at one point in time, were noted to have financial interest tied to Cardio3? To be fair, one of the authors of that review appears to have appreciated the work of Cardio3 so much that he has worked hard to take the horns and help the company execute another of its trials, this time in the US (warning, pdf link!). The authors of the manuscript explicitly state that they have no competing interests. I take them at their word.
April 7, 2014 - Cardio3 announces that their regenerative technology was recently highlighted in an editorial.
Again, very good news. But… huh. Those names look familiar.
October 8, 2014 - Cardio3 announce a research and development collaboration.
Details here (again, pdf link). Something in there sounds familiar.
In short, it is always interesting to watch the operation of companies from the outside. It can be like a game of Clue, and some companies put out more red herrings than material pieces of information. And sometimes, the pieces of information lack full context. Nonetheless, it’s a fun game for investors to play.
* Apologies to native Swedish speakers. I stole this from the internet in the hopes that it is in correct context.