Pharma Report Episode 5 – Fat, Diarrhea, Viagra and Damien Hirst

Introduction

Greetings and welcome. I’m Michael Cervieri, and this is the HealthDot Pharma Report.

Today’s report is brought to you by Knowledge Source, a leading provider of healthcare business information and analysis services for executives.

You can find them at KnowSource.Com

Sit back and relax. Today’s tour is through the body.

Along the way, we’ll get the skinny on all things fat, take a close look at novel uses of viagra, discuss market implications of a failed diarrhea medication, and observe the good, the bad, and the ugly throughout the Pharma world.

Along the way, we’ll chat with Pharma Girl and learn how art and pharma intertwine.

Skinny on the Fat

Lipo-dissolve

Maybe it’s because it’s summertime and I find myself beachside in my bathing suit. Or maybe it’s the barley and hops diet they have me on here at the Pharma Report that’s added some squish to my tush.

Either way, everywhere I turn, I see fat.

For example, a feature from National Public Radio highlights fat-dissolving injections.

This isn’t liposuction, where cosmetic surgeons suck out the fat.

Instead, it’s lipo-dissolve… as in, inject your fatty areas and watch them melt away.

Does it work? Maybe. Anecdotally, at least. But the compound used to melt fat away doesn’t have FDA approval, and until large-scale studies are done, there’ll be continued concern about how the body breaks down fat and clears the compound. For example, just how do the broken-down fatty chunks make their way through your body?

And until there’s FDA approval, there’ll be questions about whether lipo-dissolve is even legal.

Alli

GlaxoSmithKline does have an FDA-approved diet pill. It’s the first-ever approved for over-the-counter sale.

Alli is based on the prescription drug Xenical which has been around since 1999. And now that you and I can walk into our local drug store and pick it up whenever we want, Glaxo thinks they can crack $1.5 billion in annual sales.

Not so fast, say some. Xenical never became a breakthrough drug because of certain, shall we say, unpleasant side effects.

We bring Pharma Girl aboard to discuss.

Pharma Girl: Like Xenical, Alli blocks enzymes that digest fat and prevents the body from absorbing about a quarter of all fat eaten.

The undigested fat is then excreted. This leads to certain side effects like gas, diarrhea, uncontrollable bowel movements, and “anal leakage.”

Rimonabant

Fat’s one thing, and obesity’s another, and it’s not just limited to the United States. The whole world’s getting fat. The BBC has even taken to calling it Globesity.

Over in Europe, there’s a drug called Rimonabant that’s marketed under the brand name Acomplia. No word on whether it causes anal leakage, but the FDA’s health advisory panel rejected the drug because studies show it increases the risk of suicidal thoughts in some patients.

Fat Conclusion

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll start by getting some exercise.

Good Pharma / Bad Pharma

Here at the Pharma Report, it always amazes us how an industry that does such good, that develops life-saving and life-changing medicines, can so often and so clearly fall flat on its face.

Let’s take a closer look at a little something we call “Good Pharma / Bad Pharma.”

Good Pharma

I have researchers making progress in finding therapies to combat Alzheimer’s, the 7th leading cause of death in the United States and the third most expensive condition after heart disease and cancer.

For example, Wyeth has 350 scientists across 23 research projects investigating the disease.

Good Pharma

39 pharmaceutical companies dropped a case against the South African government that challenged the legalized use and imports of generic medicines free from patents.

Oxfam director of policy Justin Forsyth says that the “drug giants seem to have listened to reason in this case, which is good news for AIDS sufferers in South Africa.

Bad Pharma

I overcharged Medicare and marked up drugs from 28 to 1,000%. A US District judge in Boston just ruled that AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb. and Schering-Plough must pay damages.

Judge Patti Saris wrote that “pharmaceutical companies unfairly took advantage of the system by setting sky-high prices with no relation to the marketplace.”

Bad Pharma

I mislead the public about how addictive the painkiller OxyContin can be. I told doctors that it was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other painkillers.

A US District Judge just ordered three of us to pay a $634.5 million fine. We’re former Purdue Pharma President Michael Friedman, general counsel Howard Udell, and chief medical officer Paul Goldenheim.

The judge placed the executives on three-year probation and ordered them to perform 400 hours of community service related to the prevention of prescription drug abuse.

Viagra

Did you know that if you place cut flowers in a low-concentration of sildenafil and water, it prevents them from going limp and wilting? Sildenafil, of course, is Viagra.

We’ve always liked Viagra at the Pharma Report. It’s kind of the gift that keeps on giving.

For example, it not only keeps our flowers looking fresh and perky, but researchers are discovering that it may keep the travelers among us perky too.

Argentinean scientists completed studies that show that Viagra may help people recover from jetlag. The scientists injected hamsters with the drug and exposed them to shifting light cycles to emulate travel. The viagra hamsters were extra perky, and the researchers believe that viagra blocks a molecule that has a role in setting the body clock.

Meanwhile, over in Australia, some enterprising oyster farmers are taking things to a whole new level. Just like our Sildenafil – water concentration, the farmers are growing oysters in a viagra bath.

The result, Viagra-fed oysters called “sex in a can”.

“It really works,” says George May, who came up with the idea.

Pfizer, though, is less than amused and says it might take legal action against May. Australia’s Daily Telegraph reports that food safety officials say that feeding medication to oysters violates safety regulations and may take action as well.

Markets

Markets rise, and markets fall, as we see from recent losses due to sub-prime lending in the housing market. Bowels can make the market move too. Market watchers here at the Pharma Report call this Bowel Movement.

For example, personal fortunes took a hit due to diarrhea. At least, that’s what happened to those holding Genzyme stock back in July. Shares fell 5% when researchers announced during late-stage trials that a once-promising diarrhea drug worked no better than that which already exists.

Art – Damien Hirst

We here at the Pharma Report consider ourselves a sophisticated bunch.

We like our art, we like our culture.

Today we have the one and only Pharma Girl to connect some dots and show us where the Pharma and art worlds intertwine.

Wrap

That’s it for the HealthDot Pharma Report. I’m Michael Cervieri.

Stay well.

Say informed.

Be Healthy.