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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Marie Huber and Provenge

Oh my! Marie Huber fined $25,000 for making misleading statements about her Dendreon Provenge clinical trial study and violating the Securities Act for her role in disseminating the study! I talked about Marie Huber back in April 2 and April 4 of 2012. She is the former hedge fund financial analyst who walked away from a lucrative career, much like those I discussed yesterday. It's interesting to see this story one day after posting this quote from a government advisor from the tax haven The Isle of Jersey:
One of the things I found most peculiar working in the financial services was the culture of the workers themselves. Many of them are very intelligent people indeed. Lawyers, accountants, bankers, highly trained through Universities. Very privileged people. By and large, they hate their jobs. The jobs are boring, repetitive, stupid, but the money is fantastic. They know that the work they do is without worth. They don't create value in any economic sense of that term. 
Ms. Huber was a biochemist turned financial analyst who walked away from her financial job to use her science education to fight an evil she uncovered while analyzing the statistical analysis of Dendreon. She measured the measurements, something we see missing in the Cargo Cults of Biopharma. What she found was a concerted effort to hide possible harmful effects and spin the data to fit the narrative that originated this drug discovery project. The first rule we must have when working in  medicine (even though we're not M.D.s) is "do no harm". The courage to question Dendreon and the FDA, give up a high paid job, and offer up a scientific argument for all to scrutinize was a breath of fresh air. Not everyone saw it that way.

The SEC, the agency who could not find much of any wrongdoing on Wall Street throughout the economic meltdown the nearly crippled the world economy, felt the Ms. Huber had crossed a line. Read their report here. They fined Ms. Huber $25,000 for her attempts at influencing a lower stock price for the purpose of profiting by shorting the stock.

We at the CCS are not concerned with matters in the trade of biotechnology stocks. Ms. Huber and Jess Jones maneuvers to turn a profit off of the bad science of Dendreon does not diminish the science behind Ms. Hubers analysis of Provenge. In her own words to Pharmalot:

"I have agreed to a settlement with the SEC and I look forward to putting this issue behind me. I stand by the rigor of my scientific analysis and I shall continue to follow-up on the concerns that I expressed with regard to Provenge in the article published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute ("JNCI") in 2012.
"My primary motivation has always been the well-being of patients and the safety and effectiveness of this treatment. The accuracy of my research and conclusions are not an issue in the SEC settlement; neither my findings on Provenge submitted to CMS in July 2010, nor the concerns set forth by my co-authors and me in the JNCI article were contested by the SEC. Since first submitting the article to the JNCI in 2011, I have had no financial interest in the fate of Provenge."
The SEC has used up their time and effort to correct Ms. Huber. I'm sure this was easier than digging into Goldman Sachs misleading statements to investors whom they encouraged to go long on stocks they were shorting. Who influenced the SEC to take up this small time issue? Perhaps Ms. Huber did practice the art of deception in her financial occupation. This is possibly a fair decision and fine. If only the scientific community had the same"stick-to-it" attitude of the scorned investment community, perhaps we would revisit the effects of Provenge. Did Dendreon practice the art of deception in their scientific work? Most importantly, has the recent introduction of Provenge to the medical community altered the mortality rate of prostate cancer patients.


Anonymous said...

I think you left out the most important part of the case behind this... the fact that she declared no conflicting financial interest when publishing her work, when in fact she had an account and had purchased options in her mothers account. It's impossible to review her work without looking through at it as if she was attempting to profit from the stock movement.

Ginsberg said...

For a more detailed account of Ms. Hubers sins against the SEC see:

It is true that she probably earned that fine. Did she practice Cargo Cult Science to create a scientific looking paper in order to short the stock? Her science has not been called into question. She may have felt that her discovery into the deceptions of Dendreons clinical trial would soon sink their boat, thus making DNDN a good stock to short.

Anonymous said...

By building her PUT position before releasing the paper, which her employer at the time DID NOT release, she was attempting to derail the Medicare approval and sink the stock to her financial benefit.

Not disclosing her position in the stock options (lying) and then defending her work in the interest of patients with the release timed to benefit her financially (corrupt), leaves her with no credibility.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this? Marie huber? This is idiotic

Ginsberg said...

I agree that her credibility has been destroyed. It is unfortunate because the most important part of this story, a drug to treat prostate cancer, gets lost in the vitriol of commenters like the guy who called this post idiotic. That sort of intellectual discussion can be saved for the Yahoo Finance message boards.

There has been no call for a retraction of the JNCI paper. No one has leveled any claims of scientific misconduct. That is the primary concern of the blog. Every biopharma company has the exact same motivation as Ms. Huber, making money. Dollar signs blinded her the same as they have blinded an entire industry.

Shame on Ms. Huber for losing her integrity. It is a good opportunity to point out that the biotech/pharma industry spends everyday with the same conflict of interest. Science is the only thing that stands in the way of profit motivated people.

Anonymous said...

None of you can read.

The SEC's allegations are about a financial interest Ms Huber had in 2010.

The article she wrote was published in the JNCI in 2012.

The SEC settlement has absolutely nothing to do with the JNCI article.


THIS IS MARIE HUBER. There are some basic points missing from the public discussion of my settlement:

_(1)_ A trial would have cost me at least a year and $100,000 -$250,000 in legal fees.

_(2)_ Settling cost me $25,000 and a 6 month suspension.


My legal defense bill over the 3 years of this SEC investigation has run into SEVEN FIGURES.


The terms of settlement prohibit me from making any statement other than "I neither admit nor deny the SEC's allegations". This means that YOU KNOW NO MORE AFTER READING THE SEC's ALLEGATIONS THAN YOU KNEW BEFOREHAND. An allegation, by definition, need not have anything behind it but the alleger's motivated imagination. Again, "I neither admit nor deny the SEC's allegations".


An interesting timeline of events:


July 14/15, 2010: An anonymous report that I had written (exposing hidden results from the Provenge trials) was emailed to a bunch of biomedical folks (only 2-3% of whom were investors).

July 15, 2010: my employer files my report with CMS, identifying us as investment advisers.

August 5, 2010: I log the i.p. addresses of Kroll (private investigators) and Marsh McLennan (their former parent company), trawling through decades of archives of my personal website (

August 10-20, 2010: i.p. addresses from Seattle, WA, hit my personal website.

August 12, 2010: "Someone from Dendreon Corp" browses my LinkedIn Profile.

Sept 14, 2010: Mitch Gold approaches me, out of 300+ analysts who had just listened to his presentation at the Morgan Stanley conference (he does not know me, but I wear my distinctive long, curly hair down in order to lure him, and he obliges). After a little fun, Mitch reveals that he knows that I wrote the anonymous report on Provenge.

October 6, 2010: [I only learned this in 2013] the SEC contacts gmail regarding the account Jess had created to email my report.



Last comment:

The SEC settlement over my friend's distribution of a report I had written in 2010 is unrelated to my JNCI publication.

The JNCI publication occurred 1.5 years after my puts had expired worthless. I had no financial interest, in any way, around the time of the JNCI publication, or which could have been influenced by it. I was completely truthful in my disclosures to the journal, and given that the SEC had been all up in my business from early 2011 onwards, the settlement acts as PROOF of this.

I wished I HAD written in bold at the top of my report: "I believe so strongly in the shocking nature of the data that Dendreon has hidden and the only logical conclusions to be drawn from it, that I have bought thousands of puts betting on a decline of 30-80% in the price of DNDN stock over the next month". Maybe if i'd written that some people might actually have read it.

Anyone that did read it and understand it would have saved themselves from a 66% decline in the value of any DNDN shares they held in August 2011, when the "efficacy" of Provenge spoke for itself.

Gus said...

I think Huber's research has proven to be right..provenge has minimum effectiveness against PCa...Dr. Kwon The Mayo Clinic

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