If you enjoy betting your money at the Las Vegas poker tables and roulette wheels, then you might want to look into investing in biotech. Investing in a small or medium biotech is a lot like gambling in Sin City, says Robert Langreth on the Forbes Treatments blog. "You are either going to win big or lose big, and ... it is almost impossible to predict in advance what will happen," he says. Problems with side effects or a drug's effectiveness can wait until late in the development process to crop up, and they can mean the difference between the next blockbuster and a huge disaster, Langreth says. Not even big drug companies with experience in the field can predict what will happen. For example, he says, when Novartis came out with Gleevec to treat leukemia, it never figured on the drug becoming such a big seller. Investors, too, can't predict any of it, especially not what the FDA decides in many cases — the regulatory body's decision to send a drug back for more testing could mean that a rival drug from another company gets a leg up in the market. So, Langreth says, if you can't afford to lose everything you've invested in a biotech stock, then don't invest at all, because they are "extremely speculative and volatile investments." For every Gleevec, there are a dozen other drugs that never got off the ground, he adds.
$20 on Red, $30 on Black, and $1000 on Biotech
Dec 22, 2010