I have been called upon for being pretty quick on the draw when it comes to providing articles in reaction to current events in biotech and cancer. Sometimes I am asked about how I get my information so quickly. This made me realize just how niche some of this can be.
We absolutely need high-quality information when we’re doing our scientific due diligence. I’ve mentioned before about how we can research companies quickly using a site like Seeking Alpha, which I will certainly plug because I’m a regular contributor there (Follow me if you don’t already!). While this can be good for getting a synopsis and SEC filings, that makes Seeking Alpha usually a better resource for financial information. The scientific content on there can be quite hit and miss, though. While there are some strong contributors, I’ve found that alternative sources of news and views are also critical.
In this post, I want to offer some of the basic resources that I check on a daily basis in my attempt to keep up with the news. For the most part, these are free, although they all offer some kind of upsell with a value proposition. I cannot comment on these, as I only make use of the free resources at this time. However, what they do offer is generally high quality information, and you should definitely bookmark them so you can read daily.
Essential Resource #1 – Endpoints News
Endpoints News is my quintessential must-visit website for daily news on all matters in biotech. They cover a lot more than cancer, but they do so with such flair and depth of experience that it’s tough to think of a better resource. In essence, they’ve been covering different threads for so long that you can get a nice sense of the context and perspective of any given piece of news. Their short news pieces give you the most critical bits of information while providing some color as to why it’s important.
And I’ve seen them on more than one occasion call out managers for trying to massage data and present them in too favorable a light. It’s something I have really come to appreciate, that Endpoints doesn’t feel any need to pull punches with their biotech analysis. This helps me immensely in determining what kinds of stocks to cover, and to quickly fill in any holes I may have missed in my research.
Of course, they’re not completely perfect. Most of their stories focus very, very heavily on the business end of the equation, with a lot of focus pieces on changes of upper management and the like, which isn’t terribly interesting to me. As such, there are a lot of days that feel a bit fluffy in terms of material information. I don’t fault them for that, but they do tend to publish quite a few pieces that do not apply to my personal research, and once I’ve read them, I’m pretty much done with them forever.
Overall, Endpoints News is a very digestible, easy-to-read news site that provides essential glimpses into inner workings of these biotechs.
Essential Resource #2 – Oncology Business Review
Oncology Business Review fashions itself as a “comprehensive digital platform for oncology focused news and information.” I’d say that’s an accurate moniker. You can find quite a few different resources on their website, including conference coverage and a magazine that they put out each month called OBR Green.
But what you’ll want from OBR is the daily news digest, delivered as an email twice a day. This collates all kinds of oncology events and happenings and puts them on offer. Some days are amazing and crazy, and others are duds. You should know that OBR Daily is designed more for doctors who specialize in treating cancer. As such, there are a lot more news items that highlight events that are not actionable as an investor. It might be some kind of research initiative or publication of preclinical results in a journal.
This one, therefore, takes a little parsing to get what you want out of it. However, you can get a serious jump on the news with OBR Daily, because they catch almost all the important press releases from the cancer developers. It’s particularly important for new FDA actions, such as special designations and approvals. At this time, OBR Daily is the only email newsletter I read, and it’s another resource I check every time it comes up in my inbox.
Essential Resource #3 – The ASCO Post
As we move away from Endpoints and OBR, I want to caution you that these other two resources, while essential, are not those I would recommend checking every single day, necessarily. The first of these is The ASCO Post, abbreviated TAP. This is a website run by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and it is designed expressly as a news source for clinical oncologists and other healthcare workers.
But that shouldn’t scare you off. If you can read something like my articles on Seeking Alpha, then it’s not a huge stretch to read the information presented by TAP. The reason you would want to is because they usually provide expert commentary on the news, often in the form of a quote from the presenter or author of said study, or as part of an interview. This is absolutely invaluable insight for those of us who want to understand clinical medicine but do not have experience in it.
For all the people who ask me “what do these results mean for my company?” This site can very much help you put that in context for yourself, with additional retrospectives on recent developments in certain areas of cancer. It also has the added benefit of highlighting research that is of pivotal importance to doctors themselves. And since doctors are the customers for pharmaceutical companies, you should do as much as you can to understand where their unmet needs are.
I will say, though, that TAP is often fairly far behind, since they don’t typically specialize in “breaking” news. Therefore, you’ll find commentary on events that are fairly old, even if they are still relevant and important to clinicians. Thus, TAP acts more as a resource to help build your skillset as you look to analyze the news and understand its context. It won’t necessarily help you that much with finding the news before anyone else.
Essential Resource #4 – BioPharmCatalyst
BioPharmCatalyst is a web-based platform that pulls key information from SEC filings and logs them into different calendars. It therefore acts kind of like an aggregator, similar to OBR, but in a more permanent form.
I like to use BioPharmCatlayst for their catalyst calendars, most notably the PDUFA calendar. Here, you can gauge over the course of the next month all the different known Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments (PDUFA) action dates that are anticipated. This way, instead of being caught off guard by the news of a drug approval or rejection, you can become more anticipatory. Since most of the money has already been made by investors at the time of the PDUFA, I’ve found it’s more viable to try and seek these catalysts at least several weeks or months in advance.
They also have calendars of anticipated data events, but these are often a good bit less reliable, since they can be highly speculative or based on spurious guidance from managers. As such, I don’t tend to find these all that useful, except to remind myself that a clinical trial’s data is coming up sometime in the near future. That can be helpful in the world of phase 3 trials, where they start years before data come out.
Another disadvantage of the BioPharmaCatalyst calendars is that their most reliable information comes from larger companies, such as mid-cap and big-cap stocks. You won’t find much in the calendars of interest on smaller companies with under-the-radar catalysts, for the most part.
Another nice feature of BioPharmCatalyst is that you can do searches for news items and different companies. And they also have a decent daily news digest in the “Analysis” section of their website, which lets you get quick headlines for free. For this purpose, it’s a useful adjunct to sites with editorial staffs like Endpoints, but I have found that I prefer to get my news from alternative sources.
Finding the best stocks to invest in requires a complete approach to research. You need to get a good grasp on the fundamentals of the science, and then you need to keep working to keep pace with the major goings-on in the field. The resources I laid out in this article can be great for helping you with the latter challenge. Understanding all the developments will require you to first be aware of the news, and then the expert commentary that some of these sites offer can help drive home the messages.
The better you can equip yourself in terms of knowledge of clinical research, the more likely you will be to make sound investing decisions. Moreover, you’ll be able to more quickly place news items you see into context, and you won’t be as likely to be surprised by FDA decisions and other major catalysts.
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