Ventures West “Sells High” After Positive Prostate Cancer News From OncoGenex

Xconomy Seattle — 

Wonder why OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals stock suddenly dropped after it was the best performer on the Nasdaq last week? Here’s a clue: One of its largest shareholders, Vancouver, BC-based Ventures West Capital, sold almost half of its stake in OncoGenex after the company said its experimental drug could prolong the lives of terminal ill patients with prostate cancer.

Ventures West sold 450,000 shares in OncoGenex (NASDAQ: OGXI) at $5.95 a share on Monday, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These sales grossed about $2.7 million for the firm, and still left it holding more than 476,000 shares, or about an 8.6 percent stake in the company. Not surprisingly, in a stock with thin trading volume like this one, this selling put downward pressure on the price. OncoGenex opened Monday at $7.31, and fell 17 percent to $6.06 by the close.

OncoGenex has attracted a frenzy of investor interest since Dec. 3. That’s the day it released striking results that its experimental drug, OGX-011, was able to extend the lives of prostate cancer patients by a median time of 10.6 months when given in combination with standard chemotherapy, compared with patients who got the chemo alone. This lifted OncoGenex from obscurity to make it the best performing stock on the Nasdaq last week, as I wrote in this profile yesterday.

Ken Galbraith, a general partner with Ventures West who lists OncoGenex as part of his portfolio, didn’t respond to a request for comment yesterday.