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Max Nisen

Dermira Reminds Investors What Binary Means in Biotech

The downside of relying on one drug is often likelier and harsher than expected.
Photographer: Rob Foldy

The word "binary" brings to mind a coin flip. But in biotech, the coin is often weighted unfavorably. 

The latest example is Dermira Inc., which announced Monday that its heavily hyped acne drug had failed two final-stage trials. The drug flopped so thoroughly the company is giving up on it altogether.