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A pharma miscellany.

The Wiki Incident

October 1, 2007

Gotcha, Big Pharma! Sort of.... Not me, a guy named Jeffrey Light. The young founder and head of tiny DC-based nonprofit Patients not Patents hit the wires recently, charging that Abbott Laboratories had edited its entry in Wikipedia, the online everybody-can-play encyclopedia, trying to make itself look better. Using a brand-new online tool called the Wiki Scanner, which allows anyone to track the source of any change entered into any of Wikipedia's 2 million articles, Light discovered that at 4:38 P.M. on July 2, 2007, several edits to the article on Abbott were made from a computer at Abbott's Chicago office.

Pink Slips and Body Counts

September 1, 2007

Ever since Jeffrey Kindler rocked our world last December with the news that Pfizer was cutting its sales force by 10,000, we've been waiting for all the other behemoths' shoes to drop. While no precise domino effect has occurred, downsizing, particularly on the sales side, is very much pharma's strategy du jour.

Oh Man, Avandia

July 3, 2007

All hell broke loose on May 21 when the New England Journal of Medicine released Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen's meta-analysis of 42 studies of Avandia, showing a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack.

Back Page: The Incredible Shrinking Donut Hole

June 1, 2007

Medicare Part D's infamous donut hole—the gap in coverage where subscribers have to shell out full drug costs—sparked a national debate long before the first poor, frail, creaky (or so you imagine) senior citizen stumbled into it. Critics of Part D—mostly Democrats, plus advocates ranging from AARP to the Gray Panthers—argue that government price negotiations, which the legislation bans, would lead to savings that could close the gap. Part D backers—mostly Republicans and PhRMA—counter with "Don't fix it if it ain't broke," pointing to surveys showing that as many as 80 percent of the 23 million subscribers are pleased with the program after just the first year. Plus, they say, Part D's so-called consumer-driven design controls costs, which, in fact, came in lower than projected.

Back Page: Christmas in July

May 1, 2007

The reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) comes but once every five years. Set to expire September 30—and with congressional Democrats riding high and consumer confidence in drug safety at record lows—the deal by which pharma pays FDA to review its products is in for a long hot summer of debate.

Back Page: Where are the Women?

April 1, 2007

Despite efforts to increase diversity, the stark reality is that today's leading pharmaceutical companies are still run by men.

Back Page: Let's Get Gutsy

March 1, 2007

We all know that pharma is facing hard times: cut-throat competition, regulatory constraints, patent expirations, rusty pipelines, rising generics, falling revenues—and, perhaps most important, a firestorm of consumer anger over drug prices and safety now being restoked by the new Democratic Congress. Nevertheless, industry persists in "staying the course"—sound familiar?—rather than charting a bold new strategy. Its two top priorities remain opposing government price controls and thwarting patent laws favorable to generics. These defensive tactics are hardly the hallmark of leadership.

Back Page: While You Were Working

August 1, 2006

Do you remember where you were when Mevacor was approved? OK, what was on the radio at the time?

Back Page: Soft Serve, Hard Lessons

July 1, 2006

At first glance, you might think Bob Miglani comes from a pharma family. He and both of his younger sisters began their careers as sales reps after college. But behind their success in big business lie formative experiences at the Dairy Queen stores owned by their uncle and parents, who are immigrants from India. Even today, Miglani, whose fulltime job is in Pfizer's public affairs department, spends some weekends serving cones at the family business. In his new book, Treat Your Customers: Thirty Lessons on Service and Sales That I Learned at My Family's Dairy Queen Store (Hyperion, 2006), Miglani, 36, shares the core values that work in small business and corporate America.

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