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Biotech Drops Amid Tough Markets in February
Date:3/3/2008

SAN FRANCISCO, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second month in a row the capital markets succumbed to fears of inflation and a weakening economy. On the last day of the month the Dow dropped over 300 points after oil prices pushed past $103 per barrel for the first time. Amid these fears, biotech was dragged down with the Burrill Biotech Select Index dropping 4% along with the NASDAQ, down 5% and the Dow, which closed down 3%.

"The biotech sector started 2008 on a positive note, outperforming the major indices in January," said G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company, a San Francisco based global leader in life sciences whose principal activities are in Private Equity, Venture Capital, Merchant Banking and Media. "However, in the wake of negative news from biotech's top performer Onyx Pharmaceuticals, the industry took a hit."

Onyx was the best-performing biotech stock of 2007, notching a one-year return of 440% ... but the company dropped 42.5% in February after reporting its cancer drug Nexavar failed a Phase III study in lung cancer patients. The study was testing the combination of Nexavar and the chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer.

One of the few companies in the Index group to post a gain in February was Genentech (up 8%) on the strength that Avado, a Phase III study evaluating its cancer drug Avastin in combination with docetaxel chemotherapy, met its primary endpoint of prolonging progression-free survival in patients with advanced breast cancer. The Roche-sponsored Avado study investigated the addition of Avastin administered in two different dosages in combination with chemotherapy. Both doses of Avastin in combination with chemotherapy showed "statistically significant improvement" in the time patients lived without their disease advancing compared with chemotherapy and placebo.

The other was Illumina (up 13%). Its fourth-quarter revenue was up an impressive 86%.
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SOURCE Burrill & Company
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