Lilly Gets A Lift, Pfizer Goes Pfft


Despite at least a couple of analysts coming out with relatively bullish post-ASCO research notes on Pfizer's oncology drug pipeline, PFE shares have fallen to yet another new low intra-day and have crossed another threshold--as I write this they're under $19. But Eli Lilly is the biggest dollar and percentage gainer on an otherwise weak pharma tape.

This morning Cowen and Company big pharma analyst Steve Scala upgraded LLY to Outperform (euphemism for Buy), Novartis to Outperform and downgraded Bristol-Myers Squibb to Neutral (euphemism for Hold). His call definitely seems to be moving LLY and BMY, but not NVS, which coincidentally is holding a deep-dive meeting today for analysts and investors into its vaccine portfolio and pipeline.

Scala is basing his bullishness on Lilly primarily on the pending Food and Drug Administration decision on whether to approve the company's experimental bloodthinner Effient. I wonder if the FDA does approve the drug whether it'll let Lilly use that name because it might not like the connotation of Effient implying that it is efficient. Scala places 70/30 odds on approval of the pill.

He doesn't mention it in his upgrade note, but LLY could possibly move on major data due out over this coming weekend and/or early next week at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco. LLY, Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Alkermes will be presenting new test results on their developmental once-a-week injectable diabetes drug Byetta. Many analysts believe the product could become a multi-billion-dollar blockbuster.

After a brief recovery from my ASCO hangover here at CNBC HQ in New Jersey, I'll be heading to ADA this weekend and will be reporting live from there on Monday. Novo Nordisk will also be out with data there on its developmental diabetes drug that analysts have high hopes for. It's a mouthful: liraglutide. I wish they'd give it a commercial name already.

And unlike most scientific conferences that frontload the meetings with the headline-grabbing stuff during the first day or two, ADA stretches things out a bit and backloads its meeting (perhaps to keep attendees there as long as possible?) with embargoes lifting on big data even on the last day.

Some analysts say one to watch on Tuesday morning could be a diabetes/obesity drug in late-stage development at a small biotech, Vivus .

Tomorrow morning on "Squawk on the Street" at around 10:40 ET I'll be doing a curtain-raiser report on ADA.

Questions? Comments?