The WSJ has a new health blog. Should be good to keep tabs on—focusing mostly on the business of health care. No posts from Barbara Martinez as yet (pity!). One of their earliest posts is a comparison of March Madness basketball with Pharmabrackets. The Industry Veteran is amused but not too impressed:
The March Madness tournament in NCAA basketball has made millions of office workers with too much time on their hands look at the world through elimination brackets. I don’t know if this is an improvement over their tendency over the past 20 years to conceive all existence in terms of spreadsheets. What it has done is taken their parlor trick pastime into some unusual substantive areas. The other day the Wall Street Journal published elimination brackets showing how they believe Big Pharma will devolve into a Final Four. It’s amusing, but as with spreadsheets, regression analysis and other idiot-savant endeavors, it shows a thorough detachment from commonsensical reality.
Any consummation of their elimination pairings runs afoul of some major impediments.1. GSK + AZ. No way, Jose. GSK’s biggest product is Advair and AZ is hoping Symbicort will be its second biggest. A combination would have to axe one of the two.2. Sanofi-Aventis + Novartis. Not in this century. S-A is France’s stake in the ground for a presence in Pharma while Daniel Vasella and his director allies at Novartis are devout Swiss nationalists. More likely the US of A and France would merge to form one country.3. Merck + S-P. Makes sense in that Fred Hassan admits S-P needs pipeline and while S-P can bring marketing acumen to Merck, try getting the latter to admit they need that.4. Pfizer + Amgen. Amgen’s stock is down now because of their shenanigans on Aranesp, but as of 12/31 their market cap was just under $80 billion. Pfizer didn’t do so well with its last megabuy when they acquired Pharmacia for around $60B. I think Pfizer’s CEO Kindler and CFO Shedlarz would be out on their asses if they tried this. Besides, Amgen chairman-CEO Kevin Sharer is the new president of Big Pharma’s lobbying group, PhRMA, and he wouldn’t sell his own company while he’s serving as the industry’s figurehead spokesman.