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  • Merck: Should You Buy It? [View article]
    2016 would be still awfully optimistic. Considering that both Idenix nucleoside analog candidates that Merck had interest in (IDX 21437 and 21459) were still in phase I/II in January of 2014, I don't expect to see anything to come out of Idenix efforts until past 2018. Now that Merck had gobbled up Idenix, it would want to combine those with its own candidates and conduct more trials, it may even want to consider more analogs of the above in the context of its global HCV program. That would make predicting even more difficult. It appears that the investment in Idenix is for the long term objective of beating out the competition in HCV. Merck expertise in nucleoside analogs for HCV is zilch for all practical purpose, the acquisition of Idenix is changing that picture. To make a long story short, I don't expect a pay off from the Idenix acquisition until past 2018. A candidate from Idenix on the market by Merck would already be quite a coup, a near miracle. Think about Merck acquisition of Schering-Plough, and how many gold star candidates from Schering-Plough went to the drain a few years after.

    Merck value right now is fair, I would consider it among others for the long term, but buying on an impulse for a quick gain, no way! Ahead Merck still needs lots of hard work and luck, which is always in short supply for everybody in the industry.
    Aug 11, 2014. 12:55 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck - Current Valuation Is Based On Future Pipeline, Amidst Poor Current Earnings Quality [View article]
    Frankly, this is a very fair assessment. Merck seems to be healing after the reorganization of its R&D section, but we are still a way finding out if the company could turn around its pipeline problems. The acquisition of Schering-Plough almost 4 years ago could be paying off since the 2 promising programs most mentioned nowadays, anti-PD1 and HCV, have very deep roots there. Even if the market expectations for these two programs could come to fruition (and it couldn't be soon enough), the best we could hope is Merck will be able to keep its nose above water compared to the competition. For Merck to do well, we need to see notable market success in a third major program, BACE inhibitors for AD for example. What happen to that? Is it falling by the way side again, like so many others in the past, losing out to the competition because of poor R&D leadership?
    Aug 5, 2014. 11:46 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • AstraZeneca rejects Pfizer's final offer of £69B [View news story]
    I applaud the rejection by AZN. Pfizer management has shown beyond doubt over the years that it was incapable of nurturing the company toward sustainable growth, except by mega mergers to take advantages of cost savings through consolidation and tax advantages. Unfortunately, Pfizer is not the only large pharmaceutical company with that predicament. It is a trend in the industry that must be stopped. Shareholders should hold the executives for failure in managing innovations driving growth. It is much more productive for the company and society at large to reshuffle top executives, or hold them accountable through pay-for-performance. Mega mergers leading to massive lay-off is utterly ugly and should only be used as last resort, and not built-in habit for profit making.
    May 19, 2014. 10:29 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck - Pipeline Success Is Required To Justify The Recent Momentum [View article]
    It's a good thing that the company made a profit last Quarter, but the fact that it still came from laying off employees and other cost cutting measures is nothing to brag about. I don't understand why investors are cheering? The reaction should have been very cautious optimism, with a realization that Mr Frazier, his staff and the BOD are still in need of improvement. Of course, the improvement must come from the research pipeline, an area that has been defective for the last 10-15 years, because of a disastrous research leadership at legacy Merck that sunk a top and most admired company to what it is today. If the promise of an improved oncology and HCV franchise ever come through, then fine. These two areas may help Merck keep its nose above water but they won't restore the company to its former status. Merck must chalk more successes, perhaps in the CNS area with BACE inhibitors for AD. What happen to its much hyped CETP program? And if odanacatib come through with no disastrous long term side effects for osteoporosis patients, how much revenue would that bring? I can go on and on. I want to see more analysis of programs that suddenly became background noises. I have not forgotten that Merck had a very long string of broken promises when it comes to drug pipeline. Merging, laying off underlings, selling off buildings, may just be a smoke screen for hiding layers of non performing top leadership. The fat cats that gobble its own litters for strength are to be feared by all investors. A great company is one that nurtures its resources, including humans, to strength instead of spinning them off. With these thoughts, good luck to you all with Merck.
    Apr 30, 2014. 12:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck announces multibillion restructuring program [View news story]
    If you own MRK shares (even one) just vote no to the reappointment or appointment of executives or BOD members, or the whole lot of them, whom you don't feel comfortable. That's a good way to send a message to the Chairman to clean house. It may sound idealistic and impractical, but it's the only way to pile pressure on, besides ranting in this forum or similar others.
    Oct 6, 2013. 12:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck announces multibillion restructuring program [View news story]
    MRK has been cutting operating expenses laying off people for the last 5 years or so, and still hasn't got it right. A year or so ago before he hired Perlmutter, I remember CEO Frazier saying that he will reinforce R&D and increase spending in that area, now he is talking about cutting. Does he know what he is doing? I really don't think it's a matter of cutting R&D, it's a matter of hiring the right folks. I am sure there are plenty of unproductive high level people, left over from Peter Kim era, that need to be replaced with more forward open minded alternatives who could make the right decision moving the company forward. The old R&D infrastructure must be rebuilt from ground zero.
    Oct 1, 2013. 09:18 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Sugammadex's Problems: Is The Merck/Schering-Plough Deal The Worst? [View article]
    I do believe the FDA is in the wrong in this particular case because Bridion is being used in Europe for the last 5 years with no significant adverse effects requiring intervention from the local regulatory authorities. That aside, it's also true that the acquisition of SP 4 years ago was marginal at best. Amazingly, the management team at Merck and consultants at associated financial institutions weren't as smart as Fred Hassan, a peddler of big pharmas in trouble. The management team at legacy Merck then, especially the R&D folks, was a failure. The question now is whether the current one is competent enough. Besides Perlmutter who else above and below him must be replaced to bring about competent planning and execution in this company? I must agree that Merck still looks like a company bloated with employees who have not yet learned how to bring about good return on investment.
    Sep 26, 2013. 03:23 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • FDA's Rejection Of Aveo's Tivozanib Defies Logic [View article]
    If I were a RCC patient I wouldn't have to listen to either the author of this article or the oncologists of the ODAC (who in reality take their cue from Pazdur). Reading the data on my own, I will ask for sunitinb as first line, then tivozanib as 2nd line. Did you notice that the lone dissenting voice in the ODAC was from the patient advocate??? Patients are smarter because their life is at stake. The FDA did not serve the interest of the patient in rejecting tivozanib, it should have been approved as 2nd line therapy. Congress (and the news media) should look into this case in particular, and the FDA mechanism for oncology drug approval. I can smell the stench of arrogance and political power play in the hall of the FDA, at cost to cancer patients and the tax paying public.
    Aug 15, 2013. 01:17 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck Needs Acquisitions: Here's The List [View article]
    The acquisition of Schering-Plough brought some strength in immunology to Merck, in large part thanks to the facility in Palo Alto. Likewise Schering-Plough brought further credibility to Merck biologics operation. On the surface it wouldn't make sense to buy an immunotherapy start-up unless the portfolio is overwhelmingly attractive. It appears that Merck could be on its own in cancer immunotherapy, it would make a hell of a lot more sense to invest in an epigenetics biotech or still, a targeted therapy biotech. It's better to be late and successful than being a failure forever.
    Jul 23, 2013. 11:29 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Merck Needs Acquisitions: Here's The List [View article]
    Immunotherapy is the in thing in Oncology nowadays but we have yet to exhaust all the possibilities in targeted therapy (aka kinases and other targets in cell signaling). Oh! Don't forget epigenetics. The previous R&D leadership was a disaster in Oncology, now with the new head on board, let's see if Merck could make an intelligent choice and position the company for significant progress in this key area where so much can be done. Opportunities abound but can Merck make a good acquisition? Investors can only pray.
    Jul 23, 2013. 11:15 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Goldman doesn't see "significant downside" to shares of Merck (MRK +0.5%), but notes that today's news (previous) marks "another pipeline setback in a year that has seen a tredaptive failure [and an] odanacatib delay." Analyst Jami Rubin has now pushed his suvorexant "launch assumption from 2014 out to 2015." [View news story]
    The market may react negatively, but I don't see it the same light. Plan for launching may be delayed because of acceptance of the low dose only, but it is still an acceptance and not flat out rejection. MRK finally got something novel from its pipeline, it's meager but better than nothing. Let's hope this company is healing after 10 year of so so mediocrity in R&D. Let's hope for odacatinib, anti-PD1 etc. There is a new boss in R&D, let's hope for real change and serious catch-up, both in HR and program content.
    Jul 1, 2013. 05:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The FDA Vs. AVEO's Tivozanib: Who Does The Dying? [View article]
    Regexpert: "RCC patients currently have adequate treatment options with several innovative drugs and they don't need a drug with so many doubts/uncertainty"

    You must be kidding! What a heartless thing to say! Don't you realize that most patients would ultimately die of the disease no matter what current treatment they are getting? It is the FDA prerogative, justified or not, to demand cleaner data and more trials, but it is not necessarily in the patients interest. Didn't you notice the lone dissenting vote by the patient advocate in the ODAC? The reality is still the FDA scientists and physicians are playing God while patients die. The system is definitely not fair to the patients, it must be changed.
    Jun 10, 2013. 09:40 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The FDA Vs. AVEO's Tivozanib: Who Does The Dying? [View article]
    Chris, Thanks for a beautiful article. Yes, I agree that we should speak up. Somebody should look into the inner working of the FDA and make the review process fair for all, especially to the patients to whom it serves.
    May 31, 2013. 09:31 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The ODAC Postmortem: Lessons Learned Part 1, AVEO [View article]
    Thank you rootbeer for mentioning the May 3 Cancer letter article. It was quite informative. AVEO is undoubtedly at fault for not obtaining the express consent of the FDA for the cross over. They should have heeded the concern of the FDA about negative OS trend in May of 2012 and proceeded with a new trial instead of rushing to NDA. What a shame! A good molecule sitting on the side line because of arrogance and procedural matters, not to mention loss to investors. The FDA shouldn't have allowed AVEO to proceed with the crossover and voided the whole trial. FDA procedures must be fixed to protect patients and investors.
    May 19, 2013. 01:46 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The ODAC Postmortem: Lessons Learned Part 1, AVEO [View article]
    The question raised by bhs2011 regarding ODAC questioning the study design is a valid one. Is there communication between AVEO and the FDA at all? Shouldn't there be clear understanding between the 2 parties before the start of phase III? Sure would like to know. The whole affair appears like third world business conduct. Can somebody clarify? A good molecule is going to waste because of incompetence somewhere, the public has the right to know.
    May 4, 2013. 12:10 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment