Pfizer and the State of Statins

As much as I tried to disconnect during my vacation last week, I couldn't escape the ubiquitous presence of pharmaceuticals in our everyday lives.

One morning the innkeepers at the New Hampshire B&B where I was staying served grapefruit as the breakfast starter. I don't think they'll do it again anytime soon because at least some of it was wasted. Three of the four early risers (myself included) pushed away the dish which had been oh-so-tastefully garnished with an edible pansy from the English garden on the property.

We didn't do it because we don't like grapefruit, but because we all mentioned that we're on a statin. And according to the little sticker the pharmacy puts on the prescription bottle, grapefruit and grapefruit juice are a big no-no.

Coincidentally, that happened on the morning that Pfizer made a major announcement regarding the world's top-selling statin, Lipitor. Pfizer struck a deal with the Indian generic drugmaker Ranbaxy to ward off the threat of generic competition for Lipitor until late 2011. I know there were a lot of market pressures last week, but how frustrating must it have been for Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler and his team to negotiate that agreement only to see the stock go up a whole nickel that day on the news? Five cents.

The market reacted much more positively last week to the mid-stage test results Wyeth and Elan released on their Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab. I'm never gonna call it that on air; many analysts have taken to calling it "Bap" or "Bappy" for short. I'll have an opportunity to talk about it toward the end of next month at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease where researchers will be presenting the detailed data.

ELN is trading at a new high Monday morning, after Goldman Sachs added the stock to its "Conviction Buy" list.

Next up on the beat is the Food and Drug Administration decision on Eli Lilly's bloodthinner Effient. It's expected to come down this Thursday. If the agency approves the drug that could have a negative effect on Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb which market the top-selling bloodthinner Plavix.

And one more thing. While I was out, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn entered the blogosphere. Welcome, Carl. I look forward to reading entries on his biotech forays. Meantime, we're still waiting for Biogen Idec to announce the actual tally from Icahn's failed proxy fight last week to put his people on the BIIB Board. Could it have been close? We should find out in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing within the next few weeks.

Questions? Comments?