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Oncologists Feeling the Provenge Blahs?

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Investment bank R.W. Baird recently commissioned a survey of oncologists that may give biotech company Dendreon some cause for worry. The survey suggests that oncologists are feeling lukewarm about Dendreon's prostate cancer drug Provenge, and may be moving on to other treatments, reports Forbes' Matthew Herper. Baird analyst Christopher Raymond says there are three reasons why Provenge isn't as popular as it used to be. First, the percentage of patients who are deemed eligible to receive the treatment is declining. Second, some doctors haven't been reimbursed for the Provenge they've used. Finally, Raymond says, many doctors seem to be leaning towards using Johnson & Johnson's newly approved prostate cancer drug Zytiga instead. The survey itself was quite small, tracking 95 oncologists and no urologists, Herper says. Despite this caveat, he adds, the survey prompts the question of how big the demand for Provenge actually is. "While [Dendreon] management has chalked up the soft launch to reimbursement challenges, we believe the demand side may be just as important," Raymond writes. "Perhaps equally disconcerting is the downward trend we've seen in the percentage of patients identified as possible Provenge candidates ... reinforcing, in our view, some suspicions that docs are finding it difficult to identify Provenge candidates."

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