Once Destined for Bankruptcy, Adventrx Pharmaceuticals Sets New Course With Reformulated Drugs

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a virtual biotech. “I don’t actually like the term ‘virtual’ because it makes it seem not real,” he says. With its consultants, Adventrx probably has between 15 and 20 full-time equivalents to employees. As Culley says, “We’re just kind of bringing folks in, having them do work and having them move on when the project is over.”

After submitting its application to the FDA last week, it will likely take the FDA about 10 months to review the paperwork. “The FDA can slow that down or speed that up at their sole discretion,” Culley says. In the meantime, Adventrx is turning its attention to development of another anti-cancer drug, ANX-514, a reformulation of docetaxel (Taxotere), and has been negotiating with the New York Stock Exchange to preserve the listing of Adventrx shares on its AMEX exchange.

As for the Internet rumors and investor hype that has accompanied the biotech’s resurrection, Culley says Adventrx has not funded any financial research and doesn’t “solicit those kinds of reports.” He adds that many Adventrx shareholders are individual investors who might not be as sophisticated as institutional investors. Still, Culley says, “The various reports and exceedingly high volume, I feel confident, are being driven by a compelling and attractive story.”

As for institutional investors, Culley acknowledges that Carl Icahn made a sizable investment in Adventrx in 2005 and still holds a roughly 3 percent stake in the company. Culley says Icahn is “one of our largest shareholders, and the only investment entity with a board seat.” That seat was filled for three years by Alex Denner, who also represents Icahn’s investment entities on the boards of Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec and San Diego’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals. But Culley says Denner resigned late last year “without disputes,” and “before the company started kind of waking up and running again.”

Culley noted that Icahn started investing in Adventrx when its common stock was trading at $1.85 a share. Since then, Adventrx has fallen as low as 3 cents a share. But Culley says, “I’d like to get him [Icahn] back in the black again.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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