Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Fixing Pfizer And Your Emails

It's the kind of artwork I'm sure they weren't happy to see at Pfizer headquarters this morning. The torn company logo on the front page of the Newark Star-Ledger business section above the headline, "Signs of Wear and Tear."

The piece rehashessome of the stuff I've been blogging and reporting about recently like the drugmaker's stock price and how it's desperate to find something to replace the megablockbuster Lipitor before it goes off patent in a couple or three years.

But it also delves into the possibility of the company breaking itself up or what I think is the more likely scenario of Pfizer and other big pharmas being forced into a megamerger.

Pfizer also found out yesterday that biotech Gilead Sciences is launching a head-to-head study of GILD's Letairis versus PFE's Viagra for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. That's a rare, fatal lung disorder that strikes mostly women in their prime.

Pfizer sells Viagra under the name Revatio (reh-vah-tee-oh) for PAH and it recently bought Encysive Pharmaceuticals which has another PAH drug called Thelin. It's a small, but potentially lucrative market for the company that has the best, most widely-used product.

Pfizer gives me a good transition to some reader emails.

John Chevedden wrote in to remark about the vote tally on a shareholder proposal at last week's PFE annual meeting to split the jobs of Chairman and CEO that got 42 percent support. "This is a surprising result given that the same topic received an average of 26 percent support at major companies in 2007," Chevedden said.

Dr. Charles Barta sent an email regarding my recent post and on-air reporting about the back story to GE's earnings miss in its healthcare unit. Dr. Barta says he was involved with the development and marketing of CT scanners in the early 70s. "The problem with the entire (hospital) equipment industry is that the healthcare crisis will affect them on the downside, as much as increasing healthcare expenditures (much of it unnecessary) created the boom," he wrote.

The blog about MannKindand its continued pursuit of an inhalable form of inhalable insulin when everyone else has thrown in the towel generated a lot of emails. A few complained that I ignored Generex . Actually, I did a short feature on them at last year's American Diabetes Association meeting. And, techinically GNBT's product is not an "inhalable" insulin--it's a spray that gets absorbed through the inside of your cheeks. And a couple others disagreed with the claim by David Kliff, editor of "The Diabetic Investor" newsletter, that patients don't have as big a fear of needles as investors might think. Vittorio Nicosia, a Type-2 diabetic who is not insulin dependent, wrote "I HATE NEEDLES!!!" (Not my emphasis.)

The entryI wrote about the FDA's rejection of Merck's niacin-based cholesteroldrug drew this anecdote from Gregory Hohenshil. "I took 500 mg pills of niacin daily for a few weeks in my 20s over 30 years ago and it definitely made (me) red, hot and tingly. Gave it to my brother as he did not believe me. Half-hour later he had the same issues."

Regarding my post yesterday on former Merck Chairman and CEO Dr. Roy Vagelos and his contention that big pharma needs to be more charitable, B. Ketcham sent in this response: "Talk about philanthropic. I recall that when Vagelos retired, Merck GAVE (the caps are Ketcham's) him 500,000 shares as a retirement gift."

And I have to go into the weekend with this gem. Hemang Parekh wrote me yesterday from an email address at a major American bank "complaining" that Dendreonwas listed as one of the companies mentioned in the blog entry.

Our senior editor for blogs tells me it was a computer error, but Mr. Parekh assumed it was a blatant attempt for me to increase pageviews. Here's his subject line: "Your life must suck big time--no readers of your crap?" Then in the text he added, "So you add DNDN as a tag? Get a life scumbag."

Actually, I'm happy to report my pageviews with and without DNDN are increasing. And my life doesn't suck.

Questions?  Comments?