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No Vindication For Vytorin; Victory for Sciele

CNBC.com

I'm not gonna blog about the new Vytorin studies as there's been a plethora of coverage all over, including on CNBC this morning.

The only thing I wanted to mention was that while I was on the "New England Journal of Medicine" Web site yesterday preparing my reports for today about the embargoed articles, I noticed a banner ad at the top of the homepage from Eli Lilly saying something along the lines of, "Coming Soon: Effient (Prasugrel)."

I went back to the site today and refreshed it over and over and over again, but that strip doesn't seem to be there anymore. Trust me. I saw it with my own eyes.

Effient is the blood-thinner that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve between now and September 26. So, unless the FDA pulls a fast one, I guess my call that the agency would have a problem with the connotation of a drug called Effient may have been wrong.

We'll see. No matter what it's named, I think it's interesting that a major drug company is advertising a drug to doctors before it's approved. Perhaps it's an indication that LLY is feeling pretty confident it's gonna get a thumbs-up soon.

Meantime, a company I'd never heard of until yesterday, Sciele Pharma, is getting a lot of investor attention today. I even had to call Caris & Company analyst David Moskowitz (formerly of FBR) to find out how to pronounce it, because when I called two numbers at the Atlanta-based biopharma this morning, all I got was a fast busy signal. (Moskowitz says it's Sci-al.)

Sciele, a stock that has an average daily volume of less than one million shares, at midday has seen more than 21 million shares change hands, so far. They're up about 60 percent because one of Japan's biggest drug companies announced yesterday morning that it's gonna buy SCRX for $1.4 billion. I don't want this to sound xenophobic, but it's yet another example of a foreign firm scooping up an American company. And it's another example of a huge premium being paid for a baby biotech.

P.S. I was doing the aforementioned work on the Merck /Schering-Plough Vytorin studies on my laptop while training back from Charlottesville, VA where I watched the USC Trojans trounce the 'Hoos (another name I'd never heard of until this past weekend). Great town, great campus and stadium, by the way.

And the Starbucks right across from the U is one of the nicest I've ever seen -- and this grande, skim, no-whipped, two-Splenda mocha addict has seen quite a few. The only problem is that it was freezing cold on the second level where everyone hangs out and reads. The manager told me she's told corporate about it, but that she couldn't control the thermostat. Hello, Howard?

Bring on the Buckeyes!

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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