Hedge funds destroyed a company trying to cure cancer – chapter  14

Hedge funds destroyed a company trying to cure cancer – chapter 14

This is Chapter 14 of a 15 chapter series. The entire series is listed here

In July 2008, not long before Cell Genesys announced that its drug was killing people, CNBC’s Jim
Cramer called Dendreon a “dog.” Cramer, of course, did not mention that the illegal naked short selling of
Dendreon was continuing apace. Throughout that month, more than 1 million Dendreon shares “failed to
deliver” every day, according to SEC data.
At the end of August 2008, after Cell Genesys announced that its drug was killing people, Milken’s
Prostate Cancer Foundation posted a story that suggested that this failure was a sign that Dendreon
could be in trouble, too. Clearly, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, whose top officials had done so much
to derail Dendreon in 2007, were not eager to see the company’s treatment reach patients.
Not once did the Prostate Cancer Foundation note that the difference between Dendreon and the three
companies promoted by the Prostate Cancer Foundation was that Dendreon had provided heaps of
evidence that its treatment worked, and those other three companies had not.
In October 2008, Dendreon released still more favorable data. Its Independent Monitoring Committee’s
studies were showing that Provenge was safe, and offered a significant survival advantage over a
placebo (just as the company’s phase 3 trials in 2007 had shown).
Meanwhile our two favorite financial analysts – the singing Sendek and Jonathan Aschoff – continued to
reiterate their sell ratings on Dendreon.

The attacks continued through March 2009, which is when we were treated to the reappearance
of Matthew Herper, the Forbes reporter who had dismissed Dendreon during those strange occurrences
in April 2007. Now, Herper published a story in which he made it clear that Dendreon’s treatment would
not, and should not, be approved by the FDA.
In support of his claims, he cited the analysis of Thomas Fleming, the fellow who had, in April 2007, along
with Dr. Scher and Dr. Hussain, written a missive to the FDA that had immediately appeared in The
Cancer Letter. To show that Fleming (who is a biostatistician, not a physician) was not the only “expert”
opposed to Dendreon’s treatment, Herper cited several other “experts” – Susan Ellenberg, Donald Berry,
and Janet Wittes – who had views that were remarkably similar to Fleming’s.
What Herper did not mention is that Susan Ellenberg had co-authored a book with Fleming, Janet Wittes
was credited with editing that book, and that book enthusiastically cited the work of Donald Berry. Clearly,
these “experts” had worked together to make sure that one message was whispered in Herper’s ear.
Meanwhile, Berry was assisting clinical trials of Abiraterone, the drug that was under development by
Dendreon’s competitor, Cougar Biotechnology, which was then still controlled by Lindsay Rosenwald —
the son-in-law of the Mafia-connected “king of stock fraud.”
While Herper was working on his article, John Stewart of the “Daily Show” began exposing Jim Cramer as
a fraud. This created quite a stir, and in the midst of it Cramer went on CNBC to tout none other
than….Cougar Biotechnology. Cramer said he thought Cougar was the next big thing in prostate cancer
treatment, and everybody should load up on its stock.
Meanwhile, with Novacea and Cell Genesys killing people, Milken’s “philanthropic” outfit was now
directing much of its energy to promoting the mostly untested treatment then being hawked by Cougar
Cougar’s treatment “has recently attracted global media coverage,” began one Prostate Cancer
Foundation press release, which described the treatment as “a promising experimental medication with
the potential to treat patients who have failed conventional medical treatment for advanced prostate
The press release continued: “The [Prostate Cancer Foundation] Therapeutic Clinical Investigation
Consortium played an important role by accelerating US clinical testing of this new agent in Phase II
clinical trials….In Phase 1 studies, [Cougar’s treatment] exhibited the potential to attenuate disease
progression and shrink tumors.”
Actually, the studies were not quite so encouraging as Milken’s foundation would have one believe.
Abiraterone had been tested on a total of 30 patients. These patients purportedly experienced declines in
levels of “prostate specific antigen,” but this is a long way from demonstrating that Cougar’s treatment
“attenuates disease” or “shrinks tumors.” As for that “potential to treat patients,” it will be at least two
years before Cougar has enough data to submit an application for FDA approval.
For the sake of prostate cancer patients everywhere, Deep Capture hopes that Cougar’s drug proves to
be successful. We wish merely to note the different reception the network of Milken cronies delivers to a
drug like Provenge, whose supporting data is ample and overwhelmingly positive, versus the opinions the
network expresses about a drug whose data is preliminary and inclusive, but whose investors hail from
the Milken network.
We also wish to reiterate that Milken’s Prostate Cancer Foundation and people tied to Milken gave ringing
endorsements to companies – Novacea, Cell Genesys, and Cougar Biotechnology – right before those
companies entered into purportedly massive deals with major pharmaceutical companies. In the cases of
Novacea and Cell Genesys, those massive deals were cancelled soon after they were signed because
the companies’ treatments were shown to be ineffective.

Yet, in all three cases, investors with ties to Milken or his close associates made large fortunes selling out
their stock soon after the companies received over-the-top endorsements from the Prostate Cancer
Foundation. Meanwhile, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, whose officials had played a key role in
derailing Dendreon back in 2007, continued to snub Dendreon’s Provenge, the one treatment that could
be safely and effectively administered to patients – right away.

It is not clear if Milken himself was invested in Cougar, but Dr. Samuel Saks, who was a director on
Cougar’s advisory board, was also a board member of Milken’s fund, ProQuest Investments. Three other
members of Cougar’s advisory board were doctors affiliated with Milken’s “philanthopy,” the Prostate
Cancer Foundation.
In addition to Rosenwald, the biggest investors in Cougar Biotechnology have included Millennium
Management (the hedge fund that was co-founded by the guy who was going to murder Ivan Boesky, and
later died of an early heart attack) and Visium Capital, which is co-owned by Dimitry Balyasny and Jacob
As noted, Millennium, Visium and Balyasny were also among the largest shareholders in Cell Genesys
when the Prostate Cancer Foundation began promoting that company’s treatment, GVAX (and arguably,
its stock), in mass mailings and flyers handed out in front of shopping malls. Millennium’s manager and
Dmitry Balyasny, meanwhile, were among the seven traders who were betting big against Dendreon in
March 2007.
Gottleib, the co-owner of Visium, is something of a mystery man. I have been able to find little information
about his background.
The few media stories about Balyasny make him seem like he is a “prominent” investor – and a poster
boy for the American dream. Born in Russia, he came to America as a young man and soon started
raking in the bucks as a “whiz kid” investor. In addition to Visium, Balyasny is the proprietor of Balyasny
Asset Management and BAM Capital. Some of Balyasny Asset Management’s employees — including, for
a period of time, the fund’s chief risk officer — hail from SAC Capital, the hedge fund run by Milken crony
Steve Cohen.
A great many of Balyasny’s other employees were hired from a hedge fund called Magnetar Capital. The
senior partner and investment committee chairman of Magnetar is Michael S. Gross, who was previously
a founding partner of Apollo Advisors, the investment fund run by Milken crony Leon Black.
As you will recall, Leon Black funded the new Milken “philanthropic” foundation that hired National Cancer
Institute prostate cancer chief Alison Martin after she helped the chairman of Milken’s Therapeutic
Consortium foil Dendreon’s FDA application. Leon Black is also a business partner of Felix Sater, the
alleged Russian mobster who once stuck the broken stem of a wine glass through a stock broker’s face
and then went on to run White Rock Partners, a Mafia-infested brokerage that was indicted for
manipulating stock in cahoots with the above-mentioned Lindsay Rosenwald’s D.H. Blair.
Prior to starting his own hedge funds, Balyasny was the top trader at an outfit called Schonfeld Securities,
the proprietor of which is a man named Steven Schonfeld. Prior to founding his firm, Schonfeld worked for
Blinder Robinson (then known on the Street as “Blind’em and Rob’em”). Blinder Robinson was among the
first firms to be shut down by the Feds when they began investigating a network of Mafia-linked
brokerages that included Rosenwald’s D.H. Blair and Sater’s White Rock Capital.
Schonfeld worked at Blinder Robinson with Anthony Elgindy, the criminal naked short seller who was later
sentenced to prison for stock manipulation and bribing FBI officials. As you will recall, Elgindy appeared
for his sentencing missing a finger – reportedly because the Russian Mafia forced him to saw it off, giving

him something on which to meditate while he served his 11 years in jail. Meanwhile, the Elgindy
investigation led the authorities to other hedge funds, such as Gryphon Partners, whose manager was
later among the few who bet big against Dendreon.
As should be clear by now, it is significant that a preponderance of the hedge funds that bet big against
Dendreon, and a preponderance of the hedge funds that were invested in the three Milken-promoted
companies – Cell Genesys, Novacea, and Cougar Biotechnology – were part of the same network. And it
is significant that much of this network seems to be centered around Michael Milken and Steve Cohen,
who became the “most powerful trader on Wall Street” some years after he was investigated by the
government for trading on inside information provided to him by Milken’s shop at Drexel Burnham.
Permit me to repeat a few facts: Cohen was once the top earner for Gruntal & Company, which was
simultaneously employing several traders who were later tied to the Mafia. When Gruntal was indicted for
embezzling millions of dollars, many of its former employees went on to fill the ranks of White Rock
Capital, run by the alleged Russian mobster Felix Sater (he of the broken wine glass).
Cohen, meanwhile, had left to start his own hedge fund empire. Cohen’s hedge funds have helped pump
stocks promoted by D.H. Blair, which was eventually indicted on 173 counts of securities fraud and
implicated in a Mafia stock manipulation scheme that was orchestrated by White Rock Capital.
Lindsay Rosenwald, who is the son-in-law of D.H. Blair’s founder and a former top executive of D.H. Blair,
was not only the controlling shareholder of Cougar Biotechnology, but also the proprietor of a hedge fund
called Paramount Capital. The vice president of Paramount was formerly a top trader for Steve Cohen’s
SAC Capital. The vice president of the above mentioned Millennium Management is also a former top
trader of SAC Capital.
And Cohen, who is maniacal about his working relationships, is on close terms with Schonfeld Securities,
run by the former employee of Blind’em and Rob’em. Cohen has employed Schonfeld’s traders, including
Anthony Bassone, who was until recently assistant controller of SAC Capital; and Rob Cannon, who is
Cohen’s top personal trader at SAC. Another “Russian whiz kid”, Michael Orlov, created the computerized
trading infrastructure at both SAC and Schonfeld Securities. And, as mentioned, Cohen shares
employees and trading strategies with that other “Russian whiz kid” — Dmitry Balyasny, who was once
Schonfeld’s biggest earner.
All of which I mention only because I fancy myself a biographer of a particularly destructive network of
Wall Street personalities. It may be of no significance that out of Planet Earth’s 11,500 hedge funds, there
were only ten hedge funds with large numbers of Dendreon put options at the end of March, 2007. There
may be no significance to the fact that of those ten hedge funds, seven were in the same network —
Millennium Management; Balyasny Asset Management; WS Capital (the successor to Gryphon Partners);
Perceptive Advisors (whose manager was simultaneously working for Paramount Capital); Bernard
Madoff Investment Securities; Pequot Management; and SAC Capital (managed by Steve Cohen, who is
said to be maniacal about maintaining working relationships with people in his network).
And it could be purely coincidence that these hedge funds were the largest holders of put options on
Dendreon shares right at the time that Dendreon was getting clobbered by massive amounts of illegal
naked short selling – and right before Dendreon’s treatment for prostate cancer was stymied by an
unprecedented lobbying effort led by FDA-contracted doctors and government officials tied to Michael
By the way, three months later – at the end of June, 2007 — there was just one more hedge fund with
large numbers of Dendreon put options. It is not clear from SEC filings whether these put options were
bought before or after the FDA announced (on May 8, 2007) that it would not approve Dendreon’s

Either way, it is probably another coincidence that this eleventh hedge fund that bought large numbers of
put options in Dendreon was the above-mentioned Magnetar Capital.