Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Apr 1, 2008 in Cardiology, Ethics, Pharma

SP Share Price, Insider Trading, and the ENHANCE Timeline: Now in Fancy Graphs

SP Share Price, Insider Trading, and the ENHANCE Timeline: Now in Fancy Graphs

Prompted by continuing coverage of the controversial ENHANCE studyincluding a recent letter fired off by Senator Chuck Grassley to the CEOs of the study’s sponsors, Merck and Schering-Ploughthe Pathophilia blog engages in another exercise that illustrates the chronology of SP’s stock price, insider transactions, and important events in the ENHANCE study timeline.*

The years preceding 2006 are shown primarily to illustrate what may have been normative insider trading, during a time when the quality of the ENHANCE study data had not been realized. The most intriguing event revealed from this investigation (which may only be news to me, but at least I’m providing semi-colorful graphs) is the inordinately large sale or exercise of stock options taken by 3 SP officers from April 20, 2007, to May 21, 2007at a time when SP’s share price was at an all-time high since 2003, but also when independent contractors were wrestling with the now-recognized data-quality problems of ENHANCE.

According to these insider-transaction data, Carrie Smith Cox, Brent Saunders, and Ron Cheeley sold a little more than $32 million and exercised stock options to the tune of $19 million during this time period. Carrie Smith Cox sold the lion’s share of stock for $28 million (as has been previously reported) and exercised $16.5 million in stock options.











CDC = Cholesterol Development Committee, a joint venture of the study sponsors.

*Basic graphs for SP’s stock prices were obtained from MSN Money, and insider transactions were obtained from AOL Stock & Finance.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.


  1. Looking at the timing of the CafePharma comments on ENHANCE being “a bust” – these coincide exactly with the period when Cox, Sanders and Cheeley did their big deals.
    “Somebody had looked at the end-point examination, the IMT results, and, irrespective of group assignment, could know that a groupwise comparison of CIMT changes showed no statistically significant difference,” Dr Allen Taylor (Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC) told heartwire. “In my view, once that is known, the trial is functionally unblinded.”

  2. The first CafePharma “bust” post on ENHANCE was 3/31 (per Peter Rost). Cox sold $13.88 M on 4/20 and $14.18 M on 5/21. SP share price crossed the $30 threshhold on ~4/18 (the first time in a long time). Now it’s possible that Cox had a sell order at this price, independent of whatever was going on with the company; however, she does have some considerable explaining to do (unlike Sanders and Cheeley, imo, who sold much lower amounts during that time period.)
    I don’t know that the timeline tells us what Taylor speculates. The problem appeared to be with the quality of the data (ie, implausibility) per individual subject. It’s possible to recognize this problem without knowing the general trend of the data overall. Although once you do recognize that the data-quality problem is widespread, you would certainly suspect that your study is a bust–for no other reason than a lot of your data appear to be useless.