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Palatin Technologies: No Nose For Impotence

Palatin Technologies
Source: palatin.com
Palatin Technologies

I like to think I have a nose for news. And, some might say, too much of a penchant for puns and alliteration.

Impotence drug profits won't be going up big pharma's nose. The tiny New Jersey-based biotech company Palatin Technologies says it's giving up on its experimental nasal spray for erectile dysfunction.

A few years ago I did a story on potential next-generation sexual dysfuction drugs for men and women. It featured PTN CEO Carl Spana demonstrating and talking up the promise of the nasal spray. Turns out, though, the drug apparently raised something else...blood pressure.

I'll rarely write about a company with a measly $19 million market cap. But I thought I should, given the ubiquitous print ads, TV and radio--even on XM, the incessant one for MedaMeds which absolutely drives me nuts. I mean, I thought I was paying for commercial-free radio--commercials and email spam for prescription and over-the-counter, "homeopathic" ED remedies that it's a topic of relatively high interest.

The ED drug market never grew like most analysts thought it would when Pfizer's Viagra got competition from Eli Lilly's Cialis and Levitra from GlaxoSmithKline , Schering-Plough and Bayer . Overall it's still a multi-billion dollar-a-year segment with two strong leaders.

LLY sold nearly a billion-and-a-half dollars worth of Cialis last year, but sales went down sequentially from the fourth quarter to the first quarter. Cialis is the one that lasts in the body for about a day-and-a-half and Lilly recently won approval of a one-a-day formulation of the drug. Viagra sales climbed back six percent in 2007 to nearly $1.8 billion. Levitra sales, especially because they're split at least three ways, are relatively immaterial although Bayer recently announced it's still trying to goose revenue with the launch of a new ad campaign oddly named,"Restore the Man."

I was always taught the clothes make the man. Guess not.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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