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The $2 Difference

Thursday, 25 Jan 2007 | 3:56 PM ET

So, an overwhelming majority of Icos shareholders voted for the Lilly buyout offer. Dow Jones says 77% of the shares were voted for the deal. Opponents got just 19.2%. Lilly originally offered $32 per share, but under pressure from proxy advisory firms and big investors, the company raised its bid to $34 per share. Some were saying it still wasn't high enough, but apparently most believed they got as much as they were gonna get. The companies make and sell the impotence drug Cialis, which is expected to have more than $1 billion in sales for the first time in 2007.

Now, we're waiting on the biggest biotech company in the world, Amgen, to report its earnings after the closing bell. The stock is up about six bucks so far this month. Analysts and investors, as always, will be looking closely at sales of the company's major drugs for kidney disease and chemotherapy side-effects. But they'll also be keying in on sales of Amgen's new colorectal cancer drug, Vectibix. Earlier today, ImClone -- according to Bernstein biotech analyst Geoffrey Porges -- revealed that Amgen sold $29 million worth of Vectibix in the fourth quarter. The consensus is for $25 million. The drug requires less frequent dosing than ImClone's Erbitux and it's much cheaper.

What Price Life?
And speaking of drug pricing, the United Kingdom's government health care program announced today that it is not going to spring for Erbitux or Avastin from Genentech and Roche. In a statement the agency said, "The assessment of the evidence shows that neither of these drugs represent a good use of NHS (National Health Service) resources." Porges at Bernstein writes in a research note to clients this afternoon that "this decision saves the NHS approximately $1.2 billion per year...but probably costs the average colorectal cancer patient in the UK 5-6 months of survival."

What price life? A question British health authorities appear to have answered and that politicians and healthcare officials are beginning to grapple with here in the States.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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