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PHARMA: Crestor briefly revisited

It’s been a long while since anything was said about Crestor in this scandal sheet, but I noticed a report today that a Crestor patient died of severe muscle wasting. Crestor is the statin that The Lancet attacked so publicly at the end of 2003, and one of the overall questions about statins is their effect on muscle pain and wasting. Back in late 2003 I featured a short-selling group (Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group) that was advising its clients to go short of Astra-Zeneca around $48 a share with a target of $40. Their basic argument was that Crestor wouldn’t do too well due to the safety concerns, and that A-Z would not see its expected returns from Crestor. Crestor has in fact seen somewhat weaker sales than originally expected, despite the weird TV commercial with Jean-Luc Picard/Patrick Stewart’s Shakespearian tones coming out of the doctor and patient’s mouths in iambic pentameter.

Well as this chart shows the stock hung out in that $45-50 range for most of 2004 until September. I don’t know if FBR was still short at that point, but since then there’s been a more than 20% decline in the stock, partly on Crestor, partly on the recent failure of its cancer drug Iressa, and partly because of the overall Vioxx negative-halo effect.

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