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Amylin Feeling Pressure From Competition

Amylin Pharmaceuticals has felt the pressure of late since Merck released a diabetes drug to rival its own Byetta. And there’s no relief in sight with Novartis not far behind in getting approval for its Galvus treatment. CNBC’s Mike Huckman spoke with Amylin CEO Ginger Graham about how the competition is affecting the company.

While at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Graham says the idea that Merck and Novartis are stealing business from Amylin is off the mark. She cites the American Diabetes Association, which says that two-thirds of the 21 million diabetes sufferers in the U.S. need better blood-sugar control. Also, Byetta grew 28% in the third quarter, and Graham expects further growth as more uses for the drug are approved.

Byetta is a self-injected drug that lowers blood sugar and helps patients lose weight. It has to be kept refrigerated, but Amylin is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a room-temperature version of the drug. Graham also mentioned that a once-a-week treatment is currently being tested.

Amylin ran into some trouble last year when it couldn’t produce enough Byetta to meet demand. The company had to ask doctors to stop prescribing it. But Graham says that the drugs channels have been restocked and that even free samples are available to patients now.

But with the stock price down, does Amylin stand the chance of being bought by partner Eli Lilly or another pharmaceutical company? Graham doesn’t think so.

“I believe Amylin’s future is much brighter as a stand-alone entity,” she says.

Graham will be stepping down as the company’s CEO later this year.

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