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Diabetes and Obesity

Exubera: This Time With Feeling

Looks like my doubts about the potential of Pfizer’s inhaled insulin Exubera were well-founded. Pfizer’s having some trouble making headway, and have announced a re-launch of the product. Needless to say, you don’t re-launch products that are performing up to expectation.
When I wrote about the product a year or so ago, various dissenting comments on that post used phrases like “grand slam”, “smash hit”, and the ever-popular “blockbuster”. It hasn’t happened, though, and odds are lengthening that it ever will.

7 comments on “Exubera: This Time With Feeling”

  1. peej says:

    Looking back – the best quote had to be:
    I do investment research and write the ChangeWave Biotech Investor newsletter and much of my work is based on surveys of physicians and other folks in the healh care industry — not blind surveys but monthly surveys of people we have worked with for more than five years. Bottom line: Exubera will be a smash hit, based on the same surveys that predicted the success of Amylin’s Byetta.
    I think we all know now what newsletter we should look at with a jaundiced eye!
    It was pretty clear from the beginning that Exubera was not going to be huge – it did not really obviate needles, its a huge delivery device that you need to lug around, and oral meds control type 2 DM fairly well – when you need insulin, Exubera wont do it alone. And all this for a big price tag and hovering respiratory safety concerns.

  2. CR says:

    Add to this the fact that Pfizer paid Sanofi-Aventis $1.3B for the exclusive rights to Exubera (Exubera was a joint venture between Pfizer and Aventis–and when Sanofi bought Aventis, Pfizer exercised their right to buy the drug). So, the initial drug launch was not a huge success, and already down $1.3B…

  3. industry guy says:

    I heard Pfizer Groton laid off several Ph.D chemists yesterday (11th) without any warning. Heard anything? Rumor has it they want to get to a 4:1 associate:Ph.D ratio…

  4. tom bartlett says:

    “Rumor has it they want to get to a 4:1 associate:Ph.D ratio…”
    It’s a crime to ask for more associates?

  5. weirdo says:

    I don’t think they’re adding associates to get to 4:1 — they’re reducing Ph.D.’s.

  6. Devices R Us says:

    I think it is a bit too early to really tell the whole story about inhaled insulin. I am also not sure at all that “oral drugs control T2 well” is really true except very early in the disease continuum. My take is that the problems with Exubera are indeed the device, not the efficay and probably not the safety issues either. We will know lots more about the whole area when the next generation inhaled insulin products (Lilly and Mannkind) that use much more user-friendly devices come to market (if they ever do).

  7. In their exuberance about this product, both Pfizer and Nektar seem to have forgotten that market research may give them a better sense about the market potential for a new product.
    In this case they seem to have missed or ignored two key factors: 1. Diabetes specialists, especially endocrinologists, are afraid to prescribe a drug based on the respiratory delivery method lacking any long term effect data, and 2. Patients don’t really have a major problem sticking themselves with needles when a much bigger and literally more painful problem is using lancets to draw blood for glucose testing. Ergo, continuous monitoring combined with insulin pumps would provide a much better solution.

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