In response to inquiries about Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc’s (AMEX: HEB) (Price: $4.99) recent bio-terrorism and smallpox claims, Hemispherx issued a press release dated December 6, 2001 titled “United States Military Sponsored Research on Hemispherx Biopharma’s Immune-Based Approach to Bioterrorism — Smallpox — Shows Promise.” Hemispherx goes on to state that “positive results have already been obtained from independent animal-based research….” These statements are misleading. The independent military sponsored research that Hemispherx refers to comes from a scientific article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Hemispherx failed to disclose that the article was published in 1992 and that the article stated that three immunomodulators other than Ampligen were “found to be efficacious in significantly inhibiting tail lesions in the vaccinia virus mouse model.” No follow-on trial in humans were made and even Hemispherx’s CEO William Carter, who has promoted Ampligen as a treatment for 6 other diseases, never before made smallpox claims.
On November 2, 2001 Hemispherx issued a release promoting Carter’s claims about the applicability of Hemispherx’s “technology to the current crises growing out of the use of chemical and biological agents in the United States.” On November 20, 2001 Hemispherx issued another press release stating it was launching an “experimental program to treat potential smallpox outbreaks….” Kristen Philipkoski of Wired News in San Francisco has written a story titled “Smallpox Treatment or Snakeoil?” dated November 19, 2001 concerning Carter’s latest medical claims. (Click here for article)
Four independent scientists are quoted in Wired News on Hemispherx and Ampligen: Steven Block of Stanford University; Joseph Guglielmo of the University of California at San Francisco; Eric Wickstrom of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Dr. William Shearer of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Each of these researchers questioned the validity of Carter’s claims. In fact, even W. Edward Robinson of the University of California at Irvine (“UCI”), one of Carter’s long time co-conspirator’s, commented that claims that Ampligen could work on smallpox might be unfounded. Robinson further stated, “As far as I know there’s absolutely no data to support that.” Robinson then oddly added, “However, because of the way it reportedly works…it makes sense that it could work.” Interestingly, Robinson is himself one of the few researchers who have reported how Ampligen works.
Robinson is a co-author of an article that was published in 1987 in the British medical journal The Lancet. The authors claimed that a human clinical test had shown that Ampligen was effective in treating HIV. The Lancet article’s claims were made famous by the clear failure of a subsequent Ampligen HIV test, which was halted and resulted in charges made by DuPont that Hemispherx and its Lancet co-authors had engaged in scientific fraud. Last year, a public controversy ensued after Hemispherx renewed its 15 year-old HIV promotion using findings from an alleged new Robinson-conducted lab test. As a result, UCI disclosed that Robinson’s laboratory programs were in part financed with a Hemispherx cash “gift.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division Director recently stated “Investment scams that attempt to prey on fears of terrorism are abhorrent. We will be vigilant about rooting out and prosecuting those who seek to exploit recent events to defraud investors.” We believe that Hemispherx’s recent promotion that Ampligen may have potential in addressing the recent threat of bio-terrorism, and its recent promotional claims that a U.S. Agency had confirmed Ampligen’s potential efficacy could be viewed as an attempt to cause an increase in the stock price that would allow the resale by insiders of the recently purchased “cheap” Hemispherx stock.
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