Monday, March 31, 2008

Jim Cramer almost cried, talking to Fred Hassan.

Listen to Cramer finally beating up Fred Hassan, and apologizing to viewers here.

“When someone’s been as wrong as I’ve been on Schering,” Cramer said, “you have to do your own work.”

Senator Grassley reveals Vytorin researcher's secret e-mails to Schering-Plough.

Senator Grassley in a letter today reveals explosive communication between the lead investigator of the Vytorin ENHANCE study, Dr. John Kastelein, and two senior Schering-Plough executives:

Grassley writes (link to letter): "I am troubled to learn that after careful analysis of the ENHANCE results, medical experts are now calling Vytorin the cholesterol fighter of last resort. According to reports today on CNBC, at least one prominent cardiologist is now referring to Vytorin as an "expensive placebo." Medical professionals should have had the facts about Vytorin much earlier so they could make informed decisions about the care that they provide to patients."

Then comes the bomb shell:

Senator Grassley writes, "I am not the only one troubled by the delay in the release of ENHANCE. During their review of documents submitted by M/SP, my Committee staff found emails between Schering Plough employees and Dr. John Kastelein, the primary investigator of the ENHANCE trial. Those emails are seminal in documenting Dr. Kastelein's concerns about M/SP's delay in releasing the results of ENHANCE."

On July 6, 2007, Dr. Kastelein wrote to Dr. John Strony, who is a cardiologist and study director at Schering-Plough, with cc to Dr. Enrico Veltri, Vice President, Clinical Research and Medical & Safety Services and head of cardiovascular clinical research for Schering-Plough:

Is it correct that SP has decided not to present at AHA, but to await the two other,
completely unvalidated, endpoints, which analysis is going to take us straight into 2008??!!??

If this is true, SP must have taken this decision without even the semblance of decency to consult me as PI
of the study. I can tell you that if this is the case, our collaboration is over…This starts smelling like extending the publication for no other [than] political reasons and I cannot live with that.

That next day, Dr. Kastelein wrote again to Dr. John Strony:

I have been travelling half the globe in the last 6 months to a number of large and important meetings at the strong wish of Merck to chair them or to present ezetimibe data. At every single one of them I was cleared to say that ENHANCE would be presented at AHA. There is no reason whatsoever to include femorals; you will be seen as a company that tries to hide something and I will be perceived as being in bed with you!

Grassley also writes, "it was reported in the media that M/SP launched an ongoing Public Relations blitz called the "49 plan," designed to wine and dine doctors and convince them to prescribe Vytorin. 5 In recent days, I have learned that M/SP budgeted at least $3.5 million for the "49 plan." This seems like a great deal of money for free lunches and dinners."

And he asks for detailed accounting of these expenses.

Two clowns on one show: Fred Hassan on Jim Cramer's Mad Money tonight.

Jim Cramer, of course, is the guy who did the crazy, brown-nosing interview with Fred Hassan on Feburary 12 on CNBC.

And because he did such a lovely job, Fred is going on Jim Cramer again, no doubt trying to cover both his own a-s and Cramer's rear end.

This is not likely to be CNBC at its best.

Schering-Plough: "The important thing is to continue to prescribe"

CNBC: "The drug makers are in damage control mode."

Huckman: "Shares of Schering-Plough are trading at a 12 year low, this I am told is the worst day ever, the worst day ever, the next worst day was black Monday for SGP back in October 1987 for SGP."

Deepak Khanna, Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals general manager in CNBC interview today about the Zetia/Vytorin disaster, the 25% drop in SGP share price, and the Enhance study:

"We're very disappointed that we didn't have the appropriate scientific discussion or debate at ACC."

"Ultimately what is important is to put the study in context."

"Getting patients to their LDL goals is very important."

"What concerns me most is the confusion this causes."

"We're going to be very transparent and make sure all physicians have the appropriate information to understand how important LDL is."

"This was a small imaging study, and what it showed is we lower LDL more."

"The important thing is to continue to prescribe, to lower bad choleserol, to get to them to cholesterol goals . . . and put the study in context."

Jim Cramer's credibility: Zilch.

CNBC: The Return of Big Pharma.
March 14, 2008

"So what’s worth buying? Cramer said he likes Schering-Plough Schering Plough Corp."

Fred Hassan's credibility: Zilch.

Today Schering-Plough lost 25% of its value. This means that in one year Schering-Plough stock has dropped from a high of $33.81 to $14.29.

SGP would have to more than double in value to recoup that dramatic one-year loss.

That's a disaster for Fred Hassan, Schering-Plough’s CEO and beloved pharma turn-around expert.

Not only has he lost personal stock options that could have been valued in the range of $100 million, he has also lost his credibility.

Some observers feel that Hassan's staunch defense of Vytorin and Schering-Plough's aggressive sales tactics, such as the "49-Plan" is what made the opinion leaders speak out so strongly yesterday at the ACC against Vytorin and Zetia.

Hass666Fred Hassan now faces two Congressional investigations, subpoenas from the New York State Attorney General, a separate investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General, and an SEC investigation.

Until a few months ago Hassan was God's gift to the pharmaceutical industry (according to Forbes). But was it all just a mirage--a skillfully played con-game?

Question Authority takes you behind the glossy numbers and show you what really happened during Hassan’s tenure as CEO of two major drug companies and how he managed to fool almost everyone into thinking he had created successful turn-arounds.

Hassan built his stellar reputation during his first CEO job, heading up Pharmacia. He straightened out a messy Pharmacia and UpJohn merger, moved company headquarters from London to New Jersey, and acquired Monsanto which gave him the two blockbusters Celebrex and Bextra.

In spite of all this activity, from May 1997 when Fred became CEO, to April 2003, Pharmacia stock increased by only 18%, and if it hadn’t been for Pfizer’s offer to buy Pharmacia in 2002, stock would have actually been way down. New York Times wrote that Pfizer’s offer to buy Pharmacia “represents a 38 percent premium over Pharmacia's stock price of $32.59.”

And that’s not all--there is also evidence that a significant part of Pharmacia sales were based upon selling drugs to its wholesalers ahead of demand, “stuffing the channels,” resulting in revenue of $500 million from such sales.

Pfizer’s 2004 annual report states, “We completed the harmonization of Pharmacia’s trade-inventory practices in 2003, however, such harmonization of trade-inventory practices with those of legacy Pfizer negatively impacted revenues by approximately $500 million in 2003.”

Associated Press wrote that “When Pfizer bought Pharmacia, Pharmacia had products sitting on wholesaler’s shelves for an average of 2.2 months. Pfizer’s products, which include Viagra and Lipitor, sit on wholesalers’ shelves for an average of 0.8 months.” Pfizer’s reversal of $500 million inventory has some uncanny resemblance to what happened at Bristol-Myers Squibb: Bristol-Myers sold excessive amounts of pharmaceutical products to its wholesalers ahead of demand, improperly recognizing revenue from $1.5 billion of such sales to its two largest wholesalers.

When Bristol-Myers got caught the company was forced by SEC to pay $150 million dollars in fines. Timothy L. Warren, Associate Regional Director of the SEC's Midwest Regional Office, stated, “For two years Bristol-Myers deceived the market into believing that it was meeting its financial projections and market expectations, when, in fact, the company was making its numbers primarily through channel-stuffing and manipulative accounting devices.”

Ken Banta, a strategic adviser to Hassan, defends Hassan and claims that Pharmacia's wholesaler activities were no different than the rest of the drug industry. “The way which inventory levels were controlled were recognized as inline with the industry and that was recognized by Pfizer at the time they acquired Pharmacia,” Banta said. “Pharmacia was recognized as having very strong financial controls, compliance systems, and management teams.”

But if this "recognized channel stuffing” hadn’t taken place, Pharmacia’s past sales increases would have been 11 percentage units lower and the stock would have suffered accordingly.

The WSJ wrote on July 15, 2002 (the day of Pfizer’s take-over announcement), “In Pharmacia, Pfizer is acquiring a relatively strong drug company, with four drugs that have $1 billion-plus sales or potential sales. That could give Pfizer, with eight drugs already at those sales levels, an even dozen blockbusters.” This is what Hassan had told Wall Street, but was it really true?

Many of Pharmacia’s blockbuster products did well, but overall performance was severely hampered due to the Vioxx/Bextra/Celebrex debacle, with the top 5 products delivering growth of less than 2% per year. This is hardly a performance that would have had Wall Street cheering.
So what about those new billion dollar products?

Inspra was going to become Pharmacia’s biggest new blockbuster: “Inspra sales are predicted to be $400 million in 2004, between $750million and $760 million in 2005 and $1 billion in 2006” wrote Amanda Lopez-Darriba, Pharmaceutical Report Analyst.

But Inspra failed; sales were around $40 million in 2006, no number has been found for 2007.

It is likely that if Fred Hassan had not been pushed out from Pharmacia in 2003, he would have been covered with tar and feathers today.

Instead Hassan joined Schering-Plough with impeccable timing in April 2003, when that company was hitting rock bottom and had literally no way to go but up.

Schering-Plough sales dropped from $10.2 billion in 2002 to $8.3 billion in 2003 and stayed there in 2004 due to the patent expiration of the $3 billion allergy pill Claritin. Schering's abysmal manufacturing standards led to a consent decree and $500 million fine from the FDA; the largest in FDA history.

In August 2006 Schering-Plough cleared up the remaining mess by agreeing to pay $435 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities in connection with illegal sales and marketing programs for several drugs.

Hassan also didn’t waste any time cleaning house. He replaced almost all of Schering's executives with his own managers, most of them from Pharmacia.

At the time he took over Schering-Plough’s stock price hovered around $18 and peaked at $20 in June 2003. The stock didn’t stay consistently above $20 until after July 2006, and then rocketed to $33 in May 2007.

At that time Schering President Carrie Cox dumped $28 million of her stock options, and several others among Hassan’s direct reports also sold large amounts of stock.

From an investment point of view this was a brilliant decision; almost as if they could look into the future. In November 2007 a media firestorm erupted after the companies said they were changing the primary endpoints for the Vytorin trial.

This is a move generally considered a violation of scientific protocol and it triggered complaints from cardiologists and eventually resulted in two Congressional inquiries.

Senator Grassley also wrote to the SEC: “What disturbs me is that, according to news reports, while the Companies failed to release the ENHANCE trial results, several executives at Schering-Plough sold stock.

This sequence of events raises serious questions about whether executives at the Companies sold stock because they knew that the results of ENHANCE were negative which in turn would negatively affect stock value. Please take whatever action you deem appropriate in this matter.”

Already before the perfect storm descended on Hassan, Schering-Plough insiders claim Hassan had started to change. “We have two Town Hall meetings every year. Recently, he’s been stumbling on the words; he hasn’t had his act together. Hassan has been tired, not just lately but during the past year.”

Today, Schering-Plough is back under $15, at the same level as in 1995.

“What's very important to us is our integrity, our reputation and the robustness of what we do,” Hassan told to Forbes.

“It's not the actual trial. This thing runs on trust, and we'd like to say Schering-Plough is a very improved company since 2003.”

But can Hassan be trusted?

Hassan briefly got pulled into the Genotropin illegal marketing scandal which resulted in Pfizer paying a $35 million criminal fine.

In January of 2000, Hassan received a letter from William Abelove, a medical doctor who specialized in “anti-aging” therapies. According to Brandweek, Abelove told Hassan he was seeking a “strategic alliance” with Pharmacia for “the marketing of growth hormone injections” through his business, the Renaissance Longevity Center chain of clinics in Southern Florida.

The letter was stamped “Received” by Hassan's office on Jan. 14, and in the margin was scribbled, “Pl. follow up.” The handwriting was signed “FH.” On May 1 of that year, Abelove signed a $50,000 contract as a consultant to Pharmacia on the “adult growth hormone market.”

This type of marketing later led to Pharmacia pleading guilty to illegal promotion of Genotropin and Pfizer paying the $35 million fine.

Hassan, of course, gets lots of mail, and can’t be held accountable for every scribble he makes. He can be held accountable, however, for the personnel decisions he makes.

In spite of being fully aware of the Genotropin situation, due to an internal Pharmacia investigation in 2002, Hassan promoted Sean McNicholas to Senior Vice President for Vytorin. McNicholas had been the Vice President of Genotropin in 2000, which is when Pfizer admitted the illegal acts had been started.

In summary, the only reason past shareholders have to be happy with Hassan is that he was lucky enough to have Pharmacia bought out by Pfizer. Without that deal, he would have delivered zero share price growth during his time as CEO for Pharmacia. As for Schering-Plough, his time with that company has been a disaster.

Fred Hassan, having tried to hype Vytorin in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary, has finally lost the stock market's trust.

Quotes from Schering-Plough's CafePharma message board

It's Over!
OK, so the products that account for 70% of our profits just got hammered by the ACC this weekend.Now, we are supposed to get doctors to write those products? "If I put a patient on Zetia or Vytorin and they have a stroke or MI, I am done!" On top of that, every patient has seen the story as well. Get used to hearing "No way!".I think that the bashing that took place was more in response to the arrogance of Fred and Carrie and aggressive sales tactics, than concern that patients are being harmed.You saw it here first.

What do Schering and Spitzer have in common?
Both had high-priced whores who turned on them in the end. Almost every single key opinion leader panned Zetia and Vytorin when they were asked today. Veltri and Musliner came off as two wounded dogs screaming the wilderness. Today is a day that will go down in infamy fro Fred and Carrie.

Re: Perfect Storm
Hey maybe you can find a generic to put with one of your worthless compounds and rename it something else, sell it at a premium and hide for years the fact that it doesn't do shit. But wait. You already have tried that one.

Re: Perfect Storm
My only hope is that they offer an out to the SP reps. that want to leave while we still have some solid relationships with our docs.. Maybe we can take a voluntary separation, rebuild our reputations and get another job with a more credible company. I'll take the buyout tomorrow.

Schering-Plough drops 25%!!!!

And Merck drops 15%.

"It could also be that Zetia is just an expensive placebo and its principal harm is it drains precious resource from our health-care system and may lead people to use less of the drugs that we know are effective and beneficial. If you were put on this drug before you had an opportunity to be fully treated on statins you should see your doctor. This study provides no new evidence to support the use of this drug, and it moves us to more uncertainty about the benefits,"

"You've just seen a clinical trial that should change practice.'' Harlan Krumholz - cardiologist at Yale University.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update: Vytorin patent expiration 2017

According to DrugPatentWatch, Zetia and Vytorin patent expiration is year 2017, not 2013 as indicated by another source.

Lead Vytorin researcher on benefit of Schering-Plough drug: "Zilch"

The results show the drug had "no result — zilch. In no subgroup, in no segment, was there any added benefit" in terms of reducing plaque, said Dr. John Kastelein, the Dutch scientist who led the study.


Tim Keller on God.

This is an outstanding lecture as part of the Google lecture series. For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God, he single-handedly dismantles each of them. Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.

Tomorrow: Come back for more Vytorin action.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Schering-Plough and Merck in panic: Another Vytorin trial delayed.

Things are getting more and more scary over at Schering-Plough and Merck.

Most readers are aware of the ongoing Vytorin scandal and the Enhance trial debacle.

Vytorin is marketed by a joint venture of Merck & Co. (MRK) and Schering- Plough Corp. (SGP), and has come under fire because the Enhance study raised questions about its effectiveness. Full results of that study are set to be presented Sunday at a conference in Chicago.

Turns out there are more ongoing Vytorin trials that the companies fear could result in more problems.

So what do they do?

Well, at 4 p.m. Friday they sent out a press release, announcing that they are ALMOST DOUBLING the patient population in another key, ongoing study called "Improve-It," in which they are testing whether the cholesterol drug Vytorin can reduce heart attacks - a move expected to delay its completion by about a year, to 2012.

However, "the actual date of completion is highly dependent on the observed event rates" and "therefore it is not possible to determine with precision the exact date when the trial will end."


Clearly, the companies are not too worried about the delay.

Uh, Perhaps this is what they hoped for?

Of course, they also hope not too many people will notice the press release, that's the reason they sent it out on a Friday at 4 p.m.

And, they don't want to take responsibility for this decision, so the press release doesn't contain the Schering-Plough or Merck logos; in fact, it is rather anonymous looking.

Instead it is the doctors leading the study, titled "Improve-It," which began in 2005, who state in the press release that the trial's enrollment is being expanded to as many as 18,000 patients from the ORIGINAL PROTOCOL which had a target of 10,000.

Merck and Schering-Plough are funding the Improve-It study, but the researchers claim it was their decision to expand the study's size.

"Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals agrees with the recommendation being made by the academic leadership of the Improve-It trial," Merck spokseman Skip Irvine said Friday.

Hahahahahahahaha. Of course they do. Clearly they expect this trial was on its way to become a second debacle, and so, they hope to delay the results as long as possible. To be specific--until the patent is gone, if possible.

Problem for Merck and Schering-Plough is that there has been no evidence that Vytorin can reduce risk of heart attacks and related problems any more than the generic drug simvastatin alone; its FDA approval was based on its ability to lower bad cholesterol to a greater degree. The companies and heart specialists have in the past suggested that the Improve-It trial will provide the definitive answer to whether Vytorin's cholesterol-lowering translates into clinical benefits. Now we won't know until the patent is gone.

Funny thing is the researches were able to determine that they needed many more patients based on the results of blinded data they've received so far. Makes you go hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Let's not forget that Merck and Schering-Plough were just critized for trying to make changes to the Enhance study midstream, and for attempting to change the study's primary measure after it was completed--and reversed that effort after a Congressional inquiry. They were also criticized for not releasing the Enhance results for nearly two years after its 2006 completion.


When "researchers" start changing a study in the middle of the trial, you know it is bad news and you know that science has already taken a second position--to sales.

Vytorin/Enhance trial scandal . . . news update delayed.

Sorry folks, we're waiting for a major news update on the debacle over at Schering-Plough and Merck, but we may not get it today. Stay tuned over the weekend.

History of religion

Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?

Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
Adams HE, Wright LW Jr, Lohr BA.

Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-3013, USA.

The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

PMID: 8772014 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vytorin Scandal: Major News. Tomorrow.

Question Authority supports Barack Obama.

Yep. It's official. Question Authority is the third pharma blog supporting Barack Obama.

First one? Dr. Crippen, who started an Obama support blog.

Second one? PharmaGossip!

What changed our mind?

Same as PharmaGossip. Obama's historic speach.

And . . . the fact that Pfizer's CEO Kindler supports Clinton sure didn't help:

Plus Clinton's stupid lies about sniper fire combined with our distaste for political royalty firmly pushed us into Obama's corner. And the fact that Clinton thinks she can force people to buy health insurance didn't help.

What we like least about Obama?

He's a smoker.

Wyeth action on CafePharma

Read more.

Speculation inside PFE increases: Will Pfizer buy Wyeth?

Wyeth cutting 1,200 US sales jobs

About 1,200 U.S. sales representatives at Wyeth have been told their positions are being eliminated as of Monday, the drug maker said Thursday.

The move is part of a major companywide program, announced nine weeks ago, to cut jobs and other costs and redesign the business of Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth, which is struggling with increased competition and fewer new drugs, like most pharmaceutical companies.

Wyeth spokesman Doug Petkus said the sales representatives, in both the company's pharmaceutical and consumer health divisions, were notified Wednesday that their jobs were being cut.

'They're field-based sales reps across the U.S.,' he said.

Petkus said they will get severance pay and continuing benefits. He would not say how many U.S. sales reps the company has.

In its last cutbacks, in 2005, Wyeth reduced its sales force by about 15 percent.

In late January, Wyeth told managers about 10 percent of its 50,000 employees worldwide might lose their jobs by 2011 under a sweeping reorganization dubbed 'Project Impact.'

Parents Chose Bible Over Docs: Girl Dies

Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl's death from undiagnosed, treatable diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann (picture left) died from diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said.

The girl's mother, Leilani Neumann, said the family believes in the Bible and that healing comes from God, but she said they do not belong to an organized religion or faith, are not fanatics and have nothing against doctors.

The family relied on the following Bible texts:

Matthew 7:7-8: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Mark 11:24: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.."

John 14:12-14: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

Matthew 18:19-20: "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Family members elsewhere called authorities to seek help for the girl.

"My sister-in-law, she's very religious, she believes in faith instead of doctors ...," the girl's aunt told a sheriff's dispatcher Sunday afternoon in a call from California. "And she called my mother-in-law today ... and she explained to us that she believes her daughter's in a coma now and she's relying on faith."

The dispatcher got more information from the caller and asked if an ambulance should be sent."Please," the woman replied. "I mean, she's refusing. She's going to fight it. ... We've been trying to get her to take her to the hospital for a week, a few days now."

The aunt called back with more information on the family's location, emergency logs show. Police and paramedics arrived within minutes and immediately called for an ambulance that took her to a hospital.

Leilani Neumann said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because "our lives are in God's hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do."

More info.

Poignant thoughts.


America: The promised land for Big Pharma.

My favorite blog?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's up in those nordic countries? Icebears in the streets? Nope. MOOOSE in the bedroom.

Treasury bonds beat stock market over last ten years.

Over the past nine years, the S&P 500 is the worst-performing of nine different investment vehicles tracked by Morningstar, including commodities, real-estate investment trusts, gold and foreign stocks. Big U.S. stocks were outrun even by Treasury bonds, which historically perform much less well than stocks. Adjusted for inflation, Treasurys are up 4.7% a year over the past nine years, and up 5.8% a year since the March 2000 stock peak.

Hillary Clinton caught exaggerating her combat experience a teeny weeny bit . . .

The ultimate copying problem.

Wife prank gone very wrong. So wrong.

Doctor demonstrating an autopsy.

A telemarketer's nightmare

Want to drive a car from India? Buy a Jaguar or Land Rover!

Tata Motors of India just announced that they have bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford.

The most recent car launched by Tata Motors is the world's cheapest car, the $2,500 Nano:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Machine that reads your mind!

Or rather interprets nerve signals that would have been words, so you can speak on your cell phone without anyone hearing you on the train:

Who's writing this blog?

Peter Rost, M.D., a former Pfizer VP marketing, is an expert witness and marketing consultant. According to Fortune "Peter Rost has become the drug industry's most annoying - and effective - online scourge."

For more information:

Expert Witness: Drug Industry
Pharmaceutical Expert
Drug Expert Witness

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Bear Stearns is trading at $6 instead of $2 because unelected bureaucrats went beyond their legal mandates"

Bear Stearns is trading at $6 instead of $2 because unelected bureaucrats went beyond their legal mandates, delivered a windfall to a single private company at public expense, entered agreements that violate the the public trust, and created a situation where even if the bureaucratic malfeasance stands, the shareholders of Bear Stearns will either reject the deal or be deprived of their right to determine the fate of the company they own. Very simply, Bear Stearns is still in play. Still, when all is said and done, my own impression is that the ultimate value of the stock will not be $2, but exactly zero.

Black magician tries to kill opponent on television

The Great Tantra Challenge

On 3 March 2008, in a popular TV show, Sanal Edamaruku, the president of Rationalist International, challenged India’s most “powerful” tantrik (black magician) to demonstrate his powers on him. That was the beginning of an unprecedented experiment. After all his chanting of mantra (magic words) and ceremonies of tantra failed, the tantrik decided to kill Sanal Edamaruku with the “ultimate destruction ceremony” on live TV. Sanal Edamaruku agreed and sat in the altar of the black magic ritual. India TV observed skyrocketing viewership rates.

Everything started, when Uma Bharati (former chief minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh) accused her political opponents in a public statement of using tantrik powers to inflict damage upon her. In fact, within a few days, the unlucky lady had lost her favorite uncle, hit the door of her car against her head and found her legs covered with wounds and blisters.

India TV, one of India’s major Hindi channels with national outreach, invited Sanal Edamaruku for a discussion on “Tantrik power versus Science”. Pandit Surinder Sharma, who claims to be the tantrik of top politicians and is well known from his TV shows, represented the other side. During the discussion, the tantrik showed a small human shape of wheat flour dough, laid a thread around it like a noose and tightened it. He claimed that he was able to kill any person he wanted within three minutes by using black magic. Sanal challenged him to try and kill him.

The tantrik tried. He chanted his mantras (magic words): “Om lingalingalinalinga, kilikili….” But his efforts did not show any impact on Sanal – not after three minutes, and not after five. The time was extended and extended again. The original discussion program should have ended here, but the “breaking news” of the ongoing great tantra challenge was overrunning all program schedules.

Now the tantrik changed his technique. He started sprinkling water on Sanal and brandishing a knife in front of him. Sometimes he moved the blade all over his body. Sanal did not flinch. Then he touched Sanal’s head with his hand, rubbing and rumpling up his hair, pressing his forehead, laying his hand over his eyes, pressing his fingers against his temples. When he pressed harder and harder, Sanal reminded him that he was supposed to use black magic only, not forceful attacks to bring him down. The tantrik took a new run: water, knife, fingers, mantras. But Sanal kept looking very healthy and even amused.

After nearly two hours, the anchor declared the tantrik’s failure. The tantrik, unwilling to admit defeat, tried the excuse that a very strong god whom Sanal might be worshipping obviously protected him. “No, I am an atheist,” said Sanal Edamaruku. Finally, the disgraced tantrik tried to save his face by claiming that there was a never-failing special black magic for ultimate destruction, which could, however, only been done at night. Bad luck again, he did not get away with this, but was challenged to prove his claim this very night in another “breaking news” live program.

During the next three hours, India TV ran announcements for The Great Tantra Challenge that called several hundred million people to their TV sets.

The encounter took place under the open night sky. The tantrik and his two assistants were kindling a fire and staring into the flames. Sanal was in good humour. Once the ultimate magic was invoked, there wouldn’t be any way back, the tantrik warned. Within two minutes, Sanal would get crazy, and one minute later he would scream in pain and die. Didn’t he want to save his life before it was too late? Sanal laughed, and the countdown begun. The tantriks chanted their “Om lingalingalingalinga, kilikilikili….” followed by ever changing cascades of strange words and sounds. The speed increased hysterically. They threw all kinds of magic ingredients into the flames that produced changing colours, crackling and fizzling sounds and white smoke. While chanting, the tantrik came close to Sanal, moved his hands in front of him and touched him, but was called back by the anchor. After the earlier covert attempts of the tantrik to use force against Sanal, he was warned to keep distance and avoid touching Sanal. But the tantrik “forgot” this rule again and again.

Now the tantrik wrote Sanal’s name on a sheet of paper, tore it into small pieces, dipped them into a pot with boiling butter oil and threw them dramatically into the flames. Nothing happened. Singing and singing, he sprinkled water on Sanal, mopped a bunch of peacock feathers over his head, threw mustard seed into the fire and other outlandish things more. Sanal smiled, nothing happened, and time was running out. Only seven more minutes before midnight, the tantrik decided to use his ultimate weapon: the clod of wheat flour dough. He kneaded it and powdered it with mysterious ingredients, then asked Sanal to touch it. Sanal did so, and the grand magic finale begun. The tantrik pierced blunt nails on the dough, then cut it wildly with a knife and threw them into the fire. That moment, Sanal should have broken down. But he did not. He laughed. Forty more seconds, counted the anchor, twenty, ten, five… it’s over!

Millions of people must have uttered a sigh of relief in front their TVs. Sanal was very much alive. Tantra power had miserably failed. Tantriks are creating such a scaring atmosphere that even people, who know that black magic has no base, can just break down out of fear, commented a scientist during the program. It needs enormous courage and confidence to challenge them by actually putting one’s life at risk, he said. By doing so, Sanal Edamaruku has broken the spell, and has taken away much of the fear of those who witnessed his triumph.

In this night, one of the most dangerous and wide spread superstitions in India suffered a severe blow.

The whole program is video-recorded and is available. If you want a copy, please contact:

Bristol-Myers' CFO to go on trial today.

Former BMS CFO Frederick Schiff is finally scheduled to go to trial today on two felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud for his role in an alleged “channel-stuffing scheme” to inflate Bristol-Myers’ revenue and earnings between 2000 and 2002.

Story here.

Jeff Kindler has made up his mind.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where does Easter come from?

Eostre or Ostara was the goddess of spring, to be worshipped at the time of the vernal, or spring, equinox.

According to the legend, Eostre saved a bird whose wings were frozen from the harsh winter by turning the bird into a rabbit. However, it was a magical rabbit who could actually lay eggs. Also, because rabbits reproduce so rapidly, they are often associated with fertility. Consequently, we have today Easter Bunnies, Easter Eggs and a celebration of Spring.

Easter, also called Pascha, is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year.

The word paschal comes from a Latin word that means belonging to Passover or to Easter. Formerly, Easter and the Passover were closely associated. The resurrection of Jesus took place during the Passover. Christians of the Eastern church initially celebrated both holidays together. But the Passover can fall on any day of the week, and Christians of the Western church preferred to celebrate Easter on Sunday the day of the resurrection.

Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the moon. After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Super Trailer)

This controversial movie supporting Creationism is now out. Expelled claims that educators and scientists are being persecuted for their belief that there is evidence of “design” in nature. It claims that “Big Science" allows no dissent from the scientific theory of evolution, and blames the theory for a range of alleged societal ills.

Apparently, one of the first things happening was that PZ Myers, who is critical of the creationism and was interviewed for the movie, was expelled from watching it.

The movie has been criticized by several of the interviewees, including biologists PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins and NCSE head Eugenie Scott, who say they were misled into participating by being asked to be interviewed for a film named Crossroads on the "intersection of science and religion", with a blurb which described the strong support that had been accumulated for evolution, and contrasted this with the religious who rejected it, and the controversy this caused.

Of course, many movies critizicing creationism and religion have used the same trick . . .

On learning of the pro-intelligent design stance of the real film, Myers said "not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest." Richard Dawkins said "At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front"; and Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education, said "I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t."

The film promotes intelligent design — the idea that there is evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes, a form of creationism. The Discovery Institute which is at the center of promoting intelligent design, claims that it is a serious scientific research approach, and not creationism. However, Stein claims that the film presents evidence that scientists do not have the freedom to work within the framework of believing there is a God.

It all sounds pretty interesting. More info over at Wikipedia.

The CIA reads Question Authority. Shouldn't you?

In order not to compromise an ongoing Central Intelligence Agency investigation, details of the visit have been redacted.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Boom King

The WSJ vote is in: BMS, Wyeth, Biogen, Roche, Genzyme most likely take-over candidates.

Which means if you want to invest in pharma . . . perhaps these companies are the ones you should buy. After all, 1744 WSJ readers have voted in the poll and the CEO's of these companies are "least likely to be last man standing."

Week in Review: Thank you, Wall Street!

French Tampax Ad

This ad was created by Leo Burnett—France. Of course, it could never run in the U.S., since anything coming out of a woman here is blue.
By the way the following "care down there" ad was made in Australia, by a female creative team:

Thanks CopyRanter!

Pfitantic Video

This song is turning into a classic--whatch the Pfizer images of Phitanic!

Thanks for the laughs PharmaGiles!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quote of the day about Wall Street: Washington Post.

Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

Continued in Washington Post.

Obama's historic speech: Schoolchildren will listen to this one in the future.

Barack Obama unsparingly criticized his longtime pastor's words while strongly defending the man himself Tuesday in a politically risky speech that appealed to the country to overcome racism and the black anger and white resentment it spawns.

In his most pointed speech of the campaign, Obama confronted the nation's legacy of racial division head on, tackling black grievance, white resentment and the uproar over his former pastor's incendiary statements. Drawing on his half-black, half-white roots as no other presidential hopeful could, Obama urged Americans to break "a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years.'"

Obama's advisers say the candidate decided on Saturday to make the speech and spent much of Sunday and Monday writing it, finishing shortly before he took the stage. They said Philadelphia was chosen not because it has the highest concentration of blacks in Pennsylvania, the next state to vote on April 22, but because of its historical significance.

Ever wonder what happens if you push the "fire button" at a gas station?

Which pharma CEO is least likely to keep his job?

An amazingly interesting vote is going on right now over at the WSJ Health blog. The question is which "among the leaders of the current executive pack will win the test of endurance to remain the last CEO standing?"

But of course, certain CEOs or firms can be upvoted because of loyal web followers.

So we think it is more important to find out who the losers are . . . the ones likely to be kicked out of a job, or the ones likely to be taken over. Below is the data.

At the time I'm writing this, the pharma CEO voted least likely to keep his job, by over 700 WSJ readers, is Bernard Poussot of Wyeth. He just got his job and has a reputation as an excellent executive, so perhaps this means that readers expect that Wyeth will be taken over by Pfizer, something Ms. Arnold at Credit Suisse is recommending. Of course, six months before she made her recommendation, I wrote the post "Pfizer should buy Wyeth."

Go to the WSJ for most recent results, looks like they may hit a thousand votes later today!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pfizer Hymn leaked!!

Here is the "Pfizer Stands United" theme song to encourage the troops!

Check out the lyrics . . . and, please tell us this a spoof!

Credit PharmaGiles.

U.S. government asks Schering-Plough employees to blow the whistle.

I was recently contacted by certain government employees in Washington D.C. . . . they were looking for advice on sources inside Schering-Plough who can help them with their ongoing investigations of the Enhance trial and allegations of insider trading.

It was made clear to me that the U.S. government would consider it very helpful if sources inside Schering-Plough came forward and helped guide them in their investigation.

Over the past months both Schering-Plough and Merck have received various request for documents related to unusual trading activity of SGP shares in 2007 by Schering-Plough management, the fact that results about the ENHANCE trial were available on CafePharma already in March 2007, which led to questions about when the companies knew about the negative ENHANCE trial results, and why the companies, before unblinding, tried to change primary endpoints.

The companies have responded to these requests, and I have also been told that Schering-Plough has hired one of the law firms that used to assist the tobacco industry during their litigation. It is my personal impression that some government agencies are concerned about this, because the tobacco industry "used the attorney-client privilege to shelter scientific studies from disclosure."

I'd like to stress that no one is looking for any attorney-client information, and that I have not received an official request to look for sources, however, it is equally clear to me that some investigators would welcome hearing from Schering-Plough employees who could assist them with non-privileged information during their investigations.

If you are a Schering-Plough employee, and you have information related to recent government inquiries you should know that the government would welcome hearing from you. If you would like assistance in reaching the right people, please contact me on rostpeter-"insert at"-hotmail-dot-com.

Your name and information will be kept confidential:

1. I will not write about such contacts and information.
2. I will act as an intermediary and forward your information if you don't want the investigators to know your name.
3. If you don't want me to know you're name, I'll be happy to simply forward an anymous e-mail, once it has been verified that you have actual information.

Please note that anyone can eventually be forced to reveal an identity of someone they know, based upon a valid court order. The only way an identity can't be revealed is if the person getting the information doesn't know the name. Journalists have traditionally refused to reveal such information, and a New York Times reporter went to jail because she refused to reveal a source. Other journalists have cooperated with authorites.

The only way to permanently ensure that your identity is protected is to shield your identity from anyone you give information. To do so you may want to open a free "anonymous email account" over at AnonymousEmail or AnonymousSpeech, which will also protect your IP address.

Peter Rost

AstraZeneca forbids employees to post on CafePharma.

Here a few comments by AstraZeneca employees. Sorry about language, not up to QA standards:

"I have been a long time fan of the CP and have fashioned my fair share of lively ripostes and clever rejoinders over the years. Might I dare say that I have crafted a handful of verbal retorts that have elicited a few smiles and guffaws over time. I have been silent ever since the new policies were announced that expressly forbid posting about AZ, AZ people or AZ issues. The way I read it, I was done from posting except for the occasional naughty poem and they take too long to write and quite frankly, can be exhausting.

So I have read the policy and it is clear - I can't write a fucking thing about AZ. Fuck, fuck, holy shit fuck that blows. I will return when the policy is revised. Until then you will have to be satisfied with the lame ass shit that has appeared lately. I am not the only that read that policy."

"You can post on here all you want w/o fear. NEVER and I mean NEVER, get on CP form your company computer. Keystroke programs, the company has installed on our computers, would pick it up instantly. Just be sure to post here on your own personal computer."

"Doesn't matter if you use your own computer. You are not allowed to post on here about AZ, about AZ people or indicate that you are from AZ. THis does not infringe on your rights as an American citizen you ignorant ass. You are an employee at will and as such you are subject to the conditions set by your leadership. They have decreed that this forum is not acceptable. Doesn't matter that I don't like it, it is now a condition of my employment. So if I sit around at the meeting and brag that it is my constitutional right to post from my computer about my asshole boss and my shitty bonus plan just be it known that the company also has the right to terminate your employment upon that admission. Check the law you idiots. Also, if you write stuff that is really nasty, they can get a court order and find your ass."

"Above, you are breaking company rules so don't preach to us you ignorant ass. Let me guess, DSM and female. Right?"

"You're the idiot. They don't record IP addresses here so it doesn't matter if they get a court order or not. There are no records and they can't find you if you use your own computer."

Source Cafe Pharma.

Tar extracted from 400 cigarettes . . . check out how much stays in your lungs!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wall Street Journal posts TWO Ashley Alexandra Dupré videos . . .

Yep, if you didn't think this story was mainstream, think again and check out the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile the lady in question is being offered one million dollars from Hustler to do a photo shoot and downloads of her songs break all records.

Top Ten Spitzer Excuses

Thanks PharmaGossip!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Was Spitzer scandal and bailout of rich Wall Street bank linked?

The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

By Greg Palast
Reporting for Air America Radio’s Clout

March 14th, 2008

While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.

Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

How? Follow the money.

The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim.

Here’s what happened. Since the Bush regime came to power, a new species of loan became the norm, the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage and its variants including loans with teeny “introductory” interest rates. From out of nowhere, a company called ‘Countrywide’ became America’s top mortgage lender, accounting for one in five home loans, a large chunk of these ‘sub-prime.’

Here’s how it worked: The Grinning Family, with US average household income, gets a $200,000 mortgage at 4% for two years. Their $955 monthly payment is 25% of their income. No problem. Their banker promises them a new mortgage, again at the cheap rate, in two years. But in two years, the promise ain’t worth a can of spam and the Grinnings are told to scram - because their house is now worth less than the mortgage. Now, the mortgage hits 9% or $1,609 plus fees to recover the “discount” they had for two years. Suddenly, payments equal 42% to 50% of pre-tax income. The Grinnings move into their Toyota.

Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.

‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.

But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hearty – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.

But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.

Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush’s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of “federal pre-emption,” Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”

What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinning’s, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into “tranches” of bonds which were stamped “AAA” - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).

When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide’s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ‘earn’ a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars – he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.

But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.

The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bailout. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.

And that very same day the bail-out was decided – what a coinkydink! – the man called, ‘The Sheriff of Wall Street’ was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.

Do I believe the banks called Justice and said, “Take him down today!” Naw, that’s not how the system works. But the big players knew that unless Spitzer was taken out, he would create enough ruckus to spoil the party. Headlines in the financial press – one was “Wall Street Declares War on Spitzer” - made clear to Bush’s enforcers at Justice who their number one target should be. And it wasn’t Bin Laden.

It was the night of February 13 when Spitzer made the bone-headed choice to order take-out in his Washington Hotel room. He had just finished signing these words for the Washington Post about predatory loans:

“Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.”

Bush, Spitzer said right in the headline, was the “Predator Lenders’ Partner in Crime.” The President, said Spitzer, was a fugitive from justice. And Spitzer was in Washington to launch a campaign to take on the Bush regime and the biggest financial powers on the planet.

Spitzer wrote, “When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners the Bush administration will not be judged favorably.”

But now, the Administration can rest assured that this love story – of Bush and his bankers - will not be told by history at all – now that the Sheriff of Wall Street has fallen on his own gun.

A note on “Prosecutorial Indiscretion.”

Back in the day when I was an investigator of racketeers for government, the federal prosecutor I was assisting was deciding whether to launch a case based on his negotiations for airtime with 60 Minutes. I’m not allowed to tell you the prosecutor’s name, but I want to mention he was recently seen shouting, “Florida is Rudi country! Florida is Rudi country!”

Not all crimes lead to federal bust or even public exposure. It’s up to something called “prosecutorial discretion.”

Funny thing, this ‘discretion.’ For example, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, paid Washington DC prostitutes to put him in diapers (ewww!), yet the Senator was not exposed by the US prosecutors busting the pimp-ring that pampered him.
Naming and shaming and ruining Spitzer – rarely done in these cases - was made at the ‘discretion’ of Bush’s Justice Department.

Or maybe we should say, ‘indiscretion.’

Greg Palast, former investigator of financial fraud, is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

I'm sooo fed up with pharma . . .

Some of you probably have already noticed. I'm getting real tired of writing about stodgy pharma companies, so a few other stories have appeared on this site.

After writing tons of articles about the drug industry, for Brandweek, and a couple of books, I feel like I've just about had it with the geeks in that industry and the rich men who gulp it down at the trough.
Let's get real, we can kid about good-looking pharma sales reps, hired for theis sex-appeal, and we can make fun of Kool-Aid drinking Pfizer reps hanging out at Starbucks, but fact is that they resemble preaching mormons more than anything more exciting. Many of them reputedly even are mormons.

And anyone who stands at the gates of one of our wealthy pharma companies as the masses take off from work in their BMWs and Audis and Toyotas will note that the crowd getting out is all but exciting.

Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't fun to sometimes write about the fat cats that make it to the corner offices, but let's get real, to write about that stuff every day? Nor can any pharma blog ever aspire to really significant readership, simply because very few people think that area is all that fun to read about.

Then again, good advice is to write about what you know, and to stick by the stuff to which you can add value.

Well, I don't care.

I'm really bored.

And this blog is branded as questioning any authority, so right now I'm questioning myself. Shouldn't I change something?

Did Spitzer's call girl lie about being "broke, homeless" and "abuse at home"?

After all, this is the house Ashley Alexandra Dupre's mother lives in:

And neighbors claim she left home after her stepfather refused to buy a new Porsche, after she crashed the first one . . .

AP Video with interview of neighbors:

A friend told Access, "Ashley is a nice girl who had a difficult time in life. It is true she grew up wealthy and lived in an expensive home, but [she] has serious family issues. She got into the wrong crowd a few years ago and that's when she started dating older men. She doesn't want people to think she is a bad person."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Congress asks Schering-Plough for Zetia "49 Plan"

OK, so here is the chronology, first I wrote the story Schering-Plough tries to buy back Zetia business with "Zetia 49 Plan"; a few hours later Ed Silverman wrote his version, Schering-Plough Wines & Dines Zetia Docs and now Congress wants an explanation from Schering-Plough . . . citing Ed's story.

PRESS RELEASE March 13, 2008
Contact: Ashley Glacel Phone: (202) 224-5364


Request Comes On Heels of Hearing to Promote Dissemination of Unbiased Drug Info to Doctors

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) sent a letter to Schering-Plough Corporation, a pharmaceutical company, to request documentation on the company’s so-called “49 Plan,” an aggressive seven-week sales push to increase the amount of Zetia prescribed by doctors across the country. Published reports indicate that the “49 Plan” instructs Schering-Plough sales representatives to convince doctors to prescribe Zetia in the face of falling prescription rates by offering free meals or other entertainment. Zetia is a drug that, when used in combination with another medicine, is meant to lower cholesterol. Sales of the drug have dropped over the past year, possibly in reaction to a study that showed Zocor, a much cheaper alternative drug, to produce similar results.

“I am troubled by any attempts to persuade physicians to prescribe a drug for any reason other than the patient’s condition and the drug’s effectiveness in treating it,” Chairman Kohl said in the letter. “Unfortunately, it appears that your '49 Plan' may do exactly that.”

Chairman Kohl’s letter requests that Schering-Plough supply the Special Committee on Aging with details of the "49 Plan," to include a written description, the number of sales representatives involved and their compensation, how the plan will comply with industry guidelines and ethics, and any information on internal oversight of the plan.


Yesterday Chairman Kohl held a hearing to consider an alternative to the current prevailing practice of doctors receiving the latest information on new drugs from the drug manufacturers themselves. Pharmaceutical sales representatives are currently one of the only ways doctors can learn about new drugs on the market. The industry’s educational outreach is essentially a marketing program, and evidence shows that doctors’ prescribing patterns can be impacted by pharmaceutical sales representatives. Wednesday’s hearing considered the implications of creating a federal “academic detailing” program, which would provide physicians and other prescribers with an objective source of unbiased information on all prescription drugs, based on scientific research.

“Pharmaceutical reps often confuse educating with selling, and evidence shows that doctors’ prescribing patterns can be heavily influenced by these sales representatives,” Chairman Kohl said at the hearing. “Without academic detailing, physicians may not have access to information about the full array of pharmaceutical options, including low-cost generic alternatives. However, research has shown that when they do, doctors prescribe the best drug—not just the newest one—and healthcare spending is lowered.”

Chairman Kohl plans to introduce a bill with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) this spring to create a federal academic detailing program. The proposed legislation would create a grant program to fund the production of educational materials for doctors on the safety and comparative effectiveness of prescription drugs, including generic and over-the-counter alternatives. The policy would also create a second grant program to dispatch trained medical professionals (such as pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals) into physicians’ offices to distribute the extensively researched and independent information. Because academic detailing lowers healthcare costs for the government, the bill is expected to pay for itself.

Last June, the Committee held a hearing examining the relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. Following the hearing, Chairman Kohl and Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (S.2029) to require manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and biologics to disclose the amount of money they give to doctors through payments, gifts, honoraria, travel and other means. The drug industry has challenged the Grassley-Kohl bill, claiming that the legislation will potentially restrict their ability to inform doctors about new drugs. The academic detailing legislation under consideration by Chairman Kohl and Senator Durbin addresses this charge.

# # #

A copy of the letter can be found here:

The original published report can be found here: