The Most Interesting Thing at JPMorgan's Health Care Conference


JPMorgan's health care conference is a treasure-trove of information about health care companies. From basic information to fourth quarter sales, even a few deals are signed, sealed, and announced at JPMorgan.

But the most interesting -- both entertaining and educational -- part of the meeting happened virtually when attendees and remote observers of the conference piled onto a Twitter hashtag, #jpmpickuplines, scientifically mocking what an attendee might say to pick up someone at the hotel bar.

"Best set of data points I've seen all year," tweetedSan Francisco Business Times reporter Ron Leuty who started the meme.

The top one -- as measured by retweets -- came from Roche's official Genentech Twitter account that tweeted, "Nice antibody. Wanna conjugate?"

The meme is clearly entertaining -- well at least most of them, some got a little raunchy -- and it highlights that investors and companies can have a little fun. Investing may be serious, but it doesn't have to be stuffy.

But the list of pickup lines also serves as a nice glossary of terms that every biotech investor should know. Genentech's tweet, for example, refers to the process of adding drugs to antibodies so the drug can be targeted to specific cells. Seattle Genetics and ImmunoGen have both developed technologies to produce antibody-drug candidates; Roche's T-DM1 was developed using ImmunoGen's technology.

Here are a few more that contain terms you should know:

  • @ceels66: "You've definitely got my accelerated approval." The Food and Drug Administration grants accelerated approvals for promising drugs with limited data if they treat an unmet need. The agency requires the company to run a clinical trial after approval to confirm the result. Sarepta Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRPT) is considering applying for an accelerated approval for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen.

  • @drseisenberg: "Do you have a statistically significant other?" Clinical trials must be statistically significant to be accepted by the FDA. Typically the agency would like to see a p-value of less than 0.05, which means there's less than a 5% chance that the observed difference between the drug and control group happened by chance alone.

  • @rleuty_biotech: "Wanna see my milestones?" Deals between biotechs and big pharma partners typically come with upfront payments and additional payments that are only given out when certain milestones are met. Milestone payments can come after clinical (passing trials), regulatory (getting approved), and sales thresholds are met. Arena Pharmaceuticals for example, is due $65 million when the Drug Enforcement Agency announces scheduling of its obesity drug Belviq.

  • @BiotechStockRsr: "Wow, that's one hell of a blobbogram." A blobbogram is another name for a forest plot, a way to present odds ratios for different subsets of patients in a clinical trial. They're useful for seeing if patients sharing one characteristic respond better or worse to a treatment.

  • @kristen_hallam: "My data safety monitoring board tells me this trial should continue." Clinical trials are monitored by an independent safety monitoring board. Like the patients, the company is blinded to the data until the trial is completed, but the monitoring board meets periodically to review the unblinded data to ensure the drug isn't causing harm. The board can recommend a trial be stopped early for safety reasons, as was the case for Geron's imetelstat, but they can also end a trial early because it's clear the drug is working. Continuing the trial, as was the case for Merck's odanacatib, would be unethical to the patients receiving an inferior treatment.

  • @MartinEglitis: "I'd love an option on your program!" Rather than license a program outright, pharma and big biotech will sometimes purchase an option to license a drug at a later point. The drug developer typically gets an upfront fee and is responsible for progressing the asset until the predefined time that the option holder has to make a decision. Biogen Idec , for example, has a option to license Isis Pharmaceuticals' spinal muscular atrophy drug, ISIS-SMN, upon completion of the earlier of the first successful phase 2/3 study, or the completion of two phase 2/3 studies.

  • @jrodmanjr: "If you're lucky, maybe I'll show you my ODAC face." ODAC is the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee, the outside group commissioned by the FDA to make recommendations about whether cancer drugs should be approved. The committee and the FDA division that reviews oncology drugs have historically been tough, thus the face, I guess.

There are plenty more, have a look and if you find any that you just don't get, it might be time for a little education to make you a better biotech investor. Just don't try using them at the bar.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow the Fool health care team on Twitter @FoolBiotech. The Motley Fool recommends ImmunoGen. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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