Readers Make Me Take My Medicine

As we head into the weekend (TGIF, right?), I wanted to clean out the ol' inbox.

Regardingmy post about Genentech's Avastinmaking a cameo appearance on "Grey's Anatomy", Sally Church, who if I'm not mistaken is a drug industry consultant, wrote to set the record straight. "No, Avastin is not the first cancer drug to be mentioned in prime time TV. It's old hat now. Previously, two Novartis drugs had that dubious honor," Church says. She thinks it was on "Law and Order". I wouldn't know. I've never watched that show.

And David Evans remembered, "In the mid 90's Glaxo-Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) paid for placements of its two HIV story lines in the show 'ER'."

I still think the "Grey's" mention is a coming-of-age anecdote for Avastin which brought in more than $700 million in third quarter revenue. That figure was above analyst expectations and driven, in part, by more sales to breast cancer patients. Genentech said it has 40 percent "penetration" of Avastin in breast cancer, five percent higher than the second quarter--a bar that I reported in the same blog entry that Deutsche Bank's Mark Schoenebaum had said DNA needed to clear to avoid disappointing investors and was the single "most important metric".

The post I did comparing Roche and Genentech press releases about the same thing drew a couple more comments. Kari Kaufmann complained, "Must press releases be written so the point is meaningful to Wall Street rather than the intended audience, which in this case I suspect are doctors?" She went on to refer to me as an analyst. I'm not an analyst, nor an expert. I'm just a reporter.

But Mitch Kolesaire liked what I had to say about the two releases. "The communications person who works so very hard (apparently at or for Roche) to make the science easier to understand and easier for the media to pick up the key message, was in this case, my wife. I'm proud. Thanks for noticing and commenting," he wrote. Nice.

And, of course, my Dendreon report yesterday brought the Dendreonians, as I predicted, out of the woodwork. Suzanne Warnke said, "Thanks for the article Mike. You have always been fair in your dealings with Dendreon. Please ignore any of the crazies you seem to get mail from." Charles Cuffaro concurred, "Your articles have been fair and insightful. Of course, as you can tell, I'm long because I believe in the company and the potential PC (prostate cancer) cure." But Dr. Ted Cohen begged to differ, "Michael, Michael, Michael...Your credibility is slipping fast, my good friend."

Thanks, Dr. Cohen, but only my family still calls me Michael.

Questions? Comments?