Elan On Eight-Eight-Oh-Eight, Etc.


The Elanians (some of my colleagues refer to them as Elaniacs) have been pretty quiet in the wake of last week's double-dose of bad news and the stock getting about a two-thirds haircut.

And I don't mean to rub salt in the wound. Gerry Roberts wrote with kudos on my exclusive interview with Elan CEO Kelly Martin. "The interview...went very well, though the Elan shares are going south. Some problems need sorting quickly."

But another viewer/reader wanted to shoot the messenger. Mike Bremsky wrote, "Why did (you) hype the drug....? What happened?" I'm assuming his second question is referring to the selloff. I didn't "hype" the drug. I reported that in a subset of patients there appeared to be what one leading Alzheimer's expert called an unprecedented trend toward improving cognition and a slowdown of brain wasting. A signal, I might add, that Barron's focused on in a follow-up pieceon ELN's Alzheimer's drug partner Wyeth this week. I also delved into the brain-swelling side effects and the three deaths among patients who were taking the drug. Investigators don't think the fatalities are connected to the IV infusion.

The mystery questioner at the recent news conference on the latest study of Vytorin and Zetia from Merck and Schering-Plough hasn't come forward yet. A few people emailed to say it wasn't them and one veteran big pharma PR person, who shall remain anonymous, patted me on the back for calling out the "questioner". Jeanne Chickanosky, the senior healthcare analyst at Commerce Analysts, wrote, "Although I am not the mystery questioner, I would like to thank you for the best morning chuckle I've had in awhile." By the way, analysts who are following daily prescriptions for the drugs say the "disturbing" finding of more cancer cases among the patients taking Vytorin doesn't seem to be affecting sales as much as the previous controversial study of the cholesterol pills.

One reader was really bothered by my posts (see links below) about the economy possibly slowing sales of impotence-fighting drugs like Pfizer's Viagra and Liilly's Cialis. The person, who didn't provide his/her name, wrote in the subject line, "STOP, STOP, STOP". Then, in the body of the message the reader asked, "What is wrong with you? Stop with this Viagra stuff and the economy!!!!!! Just report the facts, not your opinions, they are worthless!!!!!" Touchy. I think I got the correct amount of exclamation points. I was simply positing a theory based on real sales trends, not opinionating. See posts below

After all that there is not a more poignant way to end this entry than with an email I got regarding my post about the recent passing of Yankee great Bobby Murcer. Brian Panker wrote about taking his then 5-year-old son to an "Old Timers' Day" game a few years ago. Brings back memories of when my grandfather used to take me to the same event at Dodger Stadium. Anyway, Derek Jeter is his boy's favorite player. But when the elder Panker spotted Murcer that day shaking hands with and chatting with some security guards, he turned to his son and said, "You see that man over there. That's Bobby Murcer. He's my Derek Jeter."

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com