Rates a pain with little relief

Tuesday, 08 March 2011


WOULD you rather have a home mortgage with a bank whose economists think interest rates are heading down (Westpac) or up (ANZ) ?

It doesn't really matter, because either bank will move your loan up immediately if official rates go up and down (eventually, reluctantly and perhaps only partially) if they happen to cut them.

There was precious little sign of a downward move from RBA governor Glenn Stevens yesterday.

It was more of a case of freshening up the inflation-fighting rhetoric and waiting for some clearer air in which to rein in rising cost pressures in the mining investment boom and slug the living daylights out of the struggling property and retail sectors.

Interest rates are a very blunt instrument, but ANZ is on the winning side here and the chances of the interest rate hiatus lasting until Melbourne Cup Day look very slim indeed.

All of which segues neatly to advances in the world of pain relief, specifically by Aussie biotechnology company QRx Pharma.

After years of beavering over the beakers, QRx is in the home straight when it comes to introducing several different forms of its MoxDuo formulation.

Rather than a totally new drug, this is a fixed combination of two well-known and understood pain drugs, morphine and oxycodone.

That means its new drug application before the US Food and Drug Administration only needs about 15 phone books full of clinical results rather than the 30 or more that would be required for a novel drug.

Phase three clinical trials have been done on patients who have had a bunion operation -- which is apparently a reliable way to have you crawling up the walls seeking pain relief -- and the immediate-release form of MoxDuo has proved to be better at treating pain than either drug alone.

It also produces fewer unwanted side effects. Chief executive Dr John Holaday said an added benefit of MoxDuo was the removal of the problem of drug abuse of medical opiates.

The difficult part now is doing a delicate dance with several large pharmaceutical companies that are the natural distribution partners for a potential blockbuster pain drug without selling out too cheaply.

The answer is a one-for-20 rights issue to raise $10.4 million so that QRx can fund research on its controlled-release version of MoxDuo and is in a much stronger cash position in these negotiations.

The controlled-release drug should be the biggest money-spinner for QRx due to the massive market for treating chronic pain conditions, leading to a buy call.

IT WAS a nasty day on the share market yesterday and not even mining stocks being spruiked at Kalgoorlie's Diggers & Dealers conference were heading in the right direction.

AngloGold Ashanti was up a skinny 0.93 per cent yesterday and ABM Resources and Grange Resources were flat, but it was a sea of red from there on. Platinum Australia was the worst, down 4.69 per cent, with Cobar Consolidated the smallest loser at 0.51 per cent.

The average of the 13 stocks was a fall of 1.68 per cent, outperforming the 1.43 per cent fall in the ASX 200 in the most unpleasant of ways.

Today is the last chance for our Diggers & Dealers index to prove its mettle before the conference winds up in a haze of hangovers, sleep deprivation and trip stories that simply can't be repeated.

IT APPEARS even foreign exchange can be used for good with major local player OzForex donating all of today's transaction revenue to charities including the Sumba Foundation and Suicide Prevention Australia.

Sumba is providing clean water to poor Indonesian provinces, so it is a perfect day to put through that big foreign exchange order.

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