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BMY CEO Cornelius: You Should Have Gotten A Flu Shot

CEO Jim Cornelius
CEO Jim Cornelius

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. We were supposed to chat with him live during the mid-afternoon break at the drug company's first analyst meeting in two years. Over the past two weeks we got official confirmation that it would indeed happen. Score one for us!

Well, late yesterday another spokesman told us Cornelius had a touch of the flu, but that we were still good to go. At the office this morning, Ruth was told he was still under feeling under the weather, but the interview was not, at that point, officially cancelled.

Then all of a sudden the top corporate communications officer, Bob Zito (formerly Dick Grasso's right-hand man) informs my boss via phone that the interview is cancelled and CNBC should stop promoting it. Ruth also got word and says Zito told her, "Don't ever ask for a Cornelius interivew again!" Say, what?!!"

But apparently Mr. Cornelius is going to be a trooper and still conduct the live, in-person presentation to analysts here this afternoon. In fact, as I was standing in position waiting to do my live shot with the breaking news on BMY's cost cuts, I saw Mr. Cornelius smiling and looking very dapper as he walked into the auditorium possibly for a last-minute dress rehearsal.

Tomorrow morning on "Squawk Box" at 7:30 ET I will be interviewing Eli Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel ahead of his company's analyst meeting. As far as I know, Mr. Taurel must have gotten his flu shot.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com