FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin

Pharma Blog Watch

April 17, 2007

Newspaper Questions Gardasil (GoozNews)
In his blog, Merrill Goozner discusses a Wall Street Journal article about Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil. "The story covers all the key issues: the relative rarity of the disease; how it's been reduced by 80 percent in the U.S. through Pap smears; and the relatively low 70 percent effectiveness rate of the new vaccine."

In addition, the story notes that "Merck cancelled its lobbying push in the states after consulting with key members of the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] advisory committee and the American Academy of Pediatrics that had recommended the vaccine," he writes.

"The story was also notable in pointing out that all the cost-effectiveness studies arguing that the vaccine would reduce health system costs … were funded by the companies that made the vaccine."

How to Avoid Another Exubera (Pharma's Cutting Edge)
In his post, Fred Cohen writes about the poor sales performance of Pfizer's inhaled insulin Exubera. "What nearly every stock analyst and pundit wrote while Exubera was in Phase III testing was that Exubera was going to be a big success," he writes. "Now that sales are flagging, analysts of all stripes are writing that they long ago knew this was going to happen."

"What happened once Exubera was launched, its lackluster sales, isn't nearly as interesting as how Pfizer and industry observers reacted to what was happening in the two years prior to launch," he continues.

He goes on to describe the main lesson drug companies can learn from Exubera, which is: "If you care about predicting customer responses to new products, and I'm sure you do, you cannot rely on inferences drawn from surveys, interviews, direct observations, product analogs, etc from a single point in time. You must follow trends in attitudes and actions as information becomes available, and you must do so continuously during development and after launch."