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Prana Biotechnology: Why I Wanted To Do Their Story

I often get pitched by PR people who want me to do a story on their micro-cap biotech company. And I almost always turn them down. I know that most of the sector toils in the eight and nine digit market value space and that there's a bit of a Catch-22 at work. I mean, how can a micro-cap get any bigger if they aren't given more attention and a higher profile when they've got news? I get it.

But there's not much I can do about it. There's a limited amount of airtime on CNBC and whether it's biotech or any other sector, management draws the line on the market cap of companies that we'll highlight. But there are exceptions to the rule. And today there's an example.

Prana Biotechnology started out the trading day in the U.S. with a market value of about $75 million. On relatively heavy volume--as I write this--it's crossed the $100 million threshold. Typically not a company I'd be permitted to spend any time covering. But here's why I was able to "sell" what in TV-news lingo we call a "hit" (approximately one minute or the equivalent of maybe two inches of copy in a newspaper) to the producers of "Squawk on the Street" this morning: (You can watch it in the video clip.)

A. It's Alzheimer's Disease, a burgeoning epidemic that affects a lot of viewers.

B. The mostly positive results are from a mid-stage test. That increases the likelihood in today's environment that a pipeline-poor, cash-rich big drug company might come along and partner with or take out the company which doesn't have the money to pay for a large, late-stage clinical trial.

To PR folks who might be reading this, please don't interpret the coverage as setting any kind of precedent and start flooding my inbox or voicemail with a bunch of micro-cap pitches. This was a one-and-done report. In other words, I'm not doing the story on any other CNBC shows today with the exception, of course, of writing about it on this blog. And editorial decisions are made on a case by case basis.

Prana is sanskrit for life force. Namaste.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com