Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Pfizer, Lilly, Amgen & Palatin Posts Get Readers Talkin'

Ahead of the long holiday weekend and what promises to be a busy couple of weeks for us (ASCO, American Diabetes Association meetings) I thought it's as good a time as any to clean out the mailbox.

The Thursday entry on the latest setback for Pfizer's stop-smoking drug Chantix generated another endorsement of the pill.

Arthur Templeton writes that he smoked for nearly 50 years until he went on Chantix from January to June of last year. "I...have been cigarette free for over a year now," he says. "I had no adverse side effects; cravings; mood swings or other things that I had experienced in the past. This drug, in my opinion, is effective and warrants much attention for those who truly want to quit." Mr. Templeton adds, however, that he did have "very vivid dreams" while taking Chantix, which anecdotally is a widely-reported side effect of the drug.

My recent post on the new Evista commercial from Eli Lilly elicited a few opinions including one from a woman who says she participated in a focus group for the spot. Laura Bliss says her comments at the time were that the "togas...made the women look like they were already sick. And it's not that they need to be biking, diving or playing softball, as I think that is a bit overdone, but geez, do they have to look like they have one foot in the grave?"

A couple of readers pointed out that my post on Palatin Technologiesabandoning its nasal spray for impotencewas incomplete. I neglected to mention the tiny biotech is apparently continuing to pursue a similar, but very early stage product for male and female sexual dysfunction. Charlie Ginsburg was one of the people who brought the omission to my attention. "I have a few shares in Palatin," he writes, "clinging to the bizarre theory I once heard of 'sex sells'."

My reports on the Amgenshareholder meeting proved to be a hot topic. An angry John Feld writes, "(CEO Kevin Sharer) has blown billions of the stockholders money and nothing to show for it except a sharp decline in the stock. Until he (resigns) the stock will go nowhere." And in a one line email Dr. Jon Ford asks, "Maybe Carl Icahn can help Amgen shareholders?"

My venting about being invited to a Leerink Swann investor conference, but then being barred from a few of the panel discussions involving paid doctor consultants and the executives of publicly-traded biotech companies touched a few nerves.

Gerry Roberts sent me an atta boy. "Congratulations," he writes, "on your stamina and being a non-conformist to these boardroom raj's in their ivory towers."

But Jonathan Shao says he isn't surprised. "Do you know why Biotech people dislike you? Because you have no clue about the biotech and the only thing you do is to smear it. I salute Celgene and other companies to bar you to attend their meetings, so there would be no rumors come out of you. Cheers, JS"

For the record, Celgene did not bar me from any meeting. In fact, CELG founder and CEO Dr. Sol Barer will be among the guests I'll be interviewing live from ASCO on Monday, June 2nd.

Cheers, MH

Questions?  Comments?