Pharma Updates And What You Need To Know


As the market remains focused on Citi and the President-elect's midday cabinet announcement there are a few newsworthy things going on in biopharmaland.

Johnson & Johnson is buying Omrix Biopharmaceuticals for $438 million in cash. And Bristol-Myers Squibb has moved forward on an option to buy into an experimental drug at Exelixis (EXEL), entitling the baby biotech to a $20 million cash payment from BMY.

Genentech announced positive results from a big study on Avastin for breast cancer. The biotech giant hopes to use the data to win full out FDA approval of the drug for that type of cancer.

Meantime, mark December 4th on your calendar. Dow component Merck announced this morning that's when it will hold a conference call to provide new financial guidance. It's become standard operating procedure for the drugmaker to do that a week ahead of its analyst/investor meeting.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, MRK's cholesterol drug partner Schering-Ploughis holding its Research and Development Day with Wall Street today. In his opening remarks Chairman and CEO Fred Hassan, among many other things, touched on the economy. "Our sector is more resilient than most, but we're not immune," he said. I'm at the company's HQ in Kenilworth, NJ to do a live interview with Hassan around 1:30 pm ET on "Power Lunch."

Finally, a note about the front-page article about Pfizer's Viagra for athletes in "The New York Times" on Sunday. It's a good "talk about" story for the water-cooler, but will have little, if any, material impact on Viagra sales.

Far down in the piece it mentioned side effects including "priapism." But the reporter/editors apparently assumed readers would know what that means. It's the side effect rattled off in impotence drug commercials that often draws chuckles and provides comedians with stand-up routine material about erections lasting four hours or more.

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Questions? Comments?