LONDON, Sept 19- The Ebola virus raging through West Africa is mutating rapidly as it tears a deadly path through cities, towns and villages, but the genetic changes are for now not giving it the ability to spread more easily.» Read More
Shares of biotech behemoth Amgen are trading at a new intra-day low in the early going this morning after the company announced new data on its developmental osteoporosis drug late Friday. The Phase 3, or late-stage, study was designed to see if the twice-a-year injectable drug strengthened the bones of women with a certain type of breast cancer.
The biotech momentum players and the Dendreonites--or Dendreonians--are buzzing about the story we broke on "Power Lunch" Thursday that three members of Congress are asking the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a hearing about the Dendreon/Provenge saga. The shares spiked on very heavy volume.
Novartis is the latest company to brand its downsizing, cost-cutting campaign. The Swiss drugmaker is calling its initiative, "Forward". It's not an acronym. So, "Forward" means Novartis is going to try to save $1.6 billion in 2010 and get rid of 2,500 employees. Although I don't think "Forward" is the word which begins with "f" that the affected workers would use to describe the initiative.
Last year one of our producers had the bright idea of assigning each of CNBC's beat reporters a story about seven predictions for their beat for 2007. So, now this year not only do we have to do the 8 for '08 thing for TV, but also for the blog.
The morning after the Merck annual business briefing, the analyst reviews are pouring in. For the most part, the ones that I've received at least, say it had a good beat. Only Sanford C. Bernstein's Tim Anderson says he can't dance to it. He titles a research note to clients, "Annual Business Review Uneventful--No Real Surprises, Positive Or Negative."
I'm back at Merck HQ in central Jersey for the annual analyst meeting. And I must say that the reception--so far, at least--is much more hospitable and helpful than last year wen things were tense and got a little ugly. A new pr team is in place.
Earlier this week I blogged about Amgen's negative test results for its anemia drug Aranesp in breast cancer. The studies showed the drug may have caused tumors to grow and death. This morning it almost seems like there's a delayed market reaction.
My inbox is flooded this morning with research notes from analysts in the wake of yesterday's FDA panel meeting on Genentech's Avastin for breast cancer. The advisory committee voted 5-4 against recommending approval of the drug for that use. The FDA usually follows the advice of its outside panels of experts, but in close votes like this one it's not unheard of for the agency to go the other way.
Regular blog readers are well aware of my relentless pursuit of big CEO interviews. So, I wanted to give the backstory to a surprising CEO cancellation of a previously scheduled and confirmed interview today by Bristol-Myers Squibb. A few weeks ago, my producer Ruth and I got tentative confirmation from a Bristol spokesman that the relatively new CEO Jim Cornelius would finally do his first TV interview since taking over the company last year.
I don't know how they all got clustered together--maybe so many of the major pharmaceutical companies meet with Wall Street in early December so everyone can then take off on long vacations--but my hands are full with three big pharma events in as many days. Yesterday, Merck put out guidance.
Shares of Dow component Merck are trading lower in the very early going this morning after the country's second-biggest drug company didn't blow people away with its 2008 financial guidance. Merck puts out its new forecast a week ahead of its annual analyst meeting, so it can focus more on its drug development pipeline at the event.
Although the stock movement this morning is not reflecting it, the latest developments in Amgen and Genentech's efforts to come up with new treatments for breast cancer are emblematic of the opposite direction these California-based biotech behemoths and rivals are headed.
Late yesterday one of the midnight-oil-burning "Squawk Box" producers runs over to my desk asking, "Hey, is this J and J thing a big deal?" I said, "What J and J thing?" "Check the wires," he said. Here's what I saw...
Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), the Chairman of the Senate's Special Committee on Aging, has made public a copy of a letter he recently sent to Genentech's President of Product Development, Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann--a frequent guest on CNBC--regarding the company's new policy on the use of the eye drug Lucentis.
Regarding my post from yesterday about Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel, a spokesman left me a voicemail this morning to say it has no intention of backing out of the interview next week. I've got a tentative commitment from Bristol-Myers Squibb to interview its new CEO Jim Cornelius for the first time at that company's analyst meeting next week.
During regular trading hours on Tuesday, Merck shares hit 60 bucks. If you bought the stock about two years ago and held it, you've doubled your money. Merck traded for 45 bucks and change the day before the company recalled Vioxx. It hadn't been above 60 since mid-2003. This has to go down as one of the greatest comeback stories in history.
If you arrive for work at CNBC headquarters early enough you can pick up a copy of "The Wall Street Journal" at the lobby desk when you walk in. Today, I grabbed mine and set it down on my desk while I logged onto my computer and cleaned out my inbox.
Late yesterday, a bullet crossed the Dow Jones newswire saying, "FDA Warns GlaxoSmithKline on Breast-Cancer Drug Promotion." Almost immediately, my producer and I got a call from the CNBC staffer who was manning what we call our "Alerts Desk" asking us if we'd seen the news and if we could provide any context.
So, does this mean I'm gonna get scooped by Reuters on Merck stories? I'm just kidding, but that was one of my reactions when I saw the press release this morning from Merck announcing that it's putting the CEO of Reuters, Tom Glocer, on its Board of Directors. The head of a financial data and news company on the Board of a major drug company. Very interesting.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration put out what it calls an "Early Communication" announcing that it's looking into possible dangerous side effects from Pfizer's hot, new smoking cessation pill, Chantix. The company sold nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of the drug in the third quarter which put it on track to quickly achieve billion-dollar blockbuster status.