Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

The ACC & DNA; Big Apple to the Big Easy


March Madness: The ACC & DNA

We're gearing up for a busy few days on the beat starting Friday. That's when biotech giant Genentech  holds its annual analyst meeting in New York City. We'll be there. Last year the company put out new, boosted financial guidance in the middle of the trading day and it moved the stock. CEO Art Levinson told the crowd of analysts he liked to time it that way so they'll stick around for the whole day. We're hoping to do a live interview with a top executive from the meeting, but the outspoken Levinson has not done any TV. We usually get the CFO or the head of product development, Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann. We've asked for Levinson several times, but keep getting turned down. It's frustrating because he really has a lot to say about the company, the industry, healthcare, etc. and is not afraid to say it--at least when cameras aren't rolling. One of these days. And if or when it happens it'll be a a great get, not to mention that it would promise to be a revealing chat.

From the Big Apple to the Big Easy
On Sunday we head down to New Orleans to cover the American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting. It's an annual confab of about 30,000 heart docs. This is the first major scientific conference to return to the city post-Katrina. We'll be airing a story about the group's decision to go back and the test it represents for NOLA next Monday. But Tuesday will be the big, potentially stock-moving clinical trial data day. The headline-grabber is expected to be a major study that goes by the acronym "Courage". The clinical trial compares the effects of stents-plus-drugs to just drugs alone. The results could have far-reaching implications for drugmakers and devicemakers. Two biotechs were also expected to loom large at ACC, but CV Therapeutics and Atherogenics  both missed their primary endpoints or main goals of their clinical trials. And, of course, originally this was going to be the torcetrapib showcase. You may recall, that's the cholesterol-fighter that Pfizer was developing but scuttled late last year because of an increased risk of death. The data will still be presented at ACC, but obviously the interest level isn't there anymore.

Off the "Beat" Path
Finally, tomorrow on "Squawk Box" at around 6:30 a.m. ET we'll be airing a story I did on the metro-Detroit economy. I lived and worked there for nearly a decade and when I recently saw the news that Comerica was moving its headquarters from Detroit to Dallas I suggested we go to Motown and take the pulse of the economy. Reuters is running a story on the Detroit-area real estate market today citing an anecdote of a house in the tony suburb of Bloomfield Hills that was listed for $525,000 and sold at auction for $130,000! Comerica, Lear, Pfizer--just to name a few--have all recently announced they're moving or closing operations in the area. The chief economist of Comerica last week said, "Michigan is stuck in a one-state recession." Others I talked to say they're beginning to see signs of life, but some say things won't turn around until Detroit and Michigan overhaul their business tax structures and labor requirements.

Questions?  Comments?