Saturday, September 4, 2010

On the Cyberroad

I think that I’ve finally managed to break away from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) ( ) and its world view. Now, I’m continuing my journey across the Internet looking for Big Pharma’s story.

This week I wanted to move away from Big Pharma’s lobbyists and other front organizations. I went to the websites of two large pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Pfizer. These are two major players in the industry and seemed like a good place to start.

I’ll start with Merck ( ). The usual trappings of a Fortune 500 company were there along with what I’m coming to expect at a large pharmaceutical company. Looking at the site, one could get the impression that this is an altruistic organization worried about patients, the environment, and helping small businesses. (Alright, I admit it, I’m a little bit cynical.)

But, I found what I came looking for, Merck’s pipeline ( ). I have to admit from a purely technical perspective, this was done very nicely. Now, let’s talk about the content.

Phase II, Phase III, and Under Review drugs are listed in addition to research areas. Three categories of drugs can be highlighted, biologics, small molecule, and vaccines. Clinical trial results can be linked to for drugs in Phase III and Under Review.

I’m the last guy who can say what’s a good drug or a bad drug from a financial perspective. And, Merck’s site doesn’t include financial forecasts for these potential drugs probably for very good SEC and FDA reasons. Although, I’m probably not going too far out on a limb here by saying that internally Merck is forecasting the financial potential of these drugs.

But, except for a mention to now looking at biologics, there’s nothing about what their philosophy is or why they are doing what they do. Yes, they talk about doing good things and saving lives and that’s about it. I just don’t see an exciting story that tells me that these guys are going to be tomorrow’s breakout story.

Let’s take a quick look at Pfizer’s site ( ). Here we have all the state of the art social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. When I went looking for their pipeline I found a twenty-two page PDF document ( ). (They really could learn something from Merck.)

Like at Merck’s site, I couldn’t find any reference to where Pfizer saw it’s future heading. From both sites I came away with a picture in my mind of countless lab techs all over the world mindlessly droning away at testing compounds for some vague end. I’m reminded of players at a roulette wheel in a casino. Play enough numbers long enough and sooner or later, you’ll win. Didn’t this get Wall Street in trouble a while back?

My journey so far hasn’t shown me any insights yet into why Big Pharma will turn around. If they have any, they should bring them to the fore better than they’ve done so far. Come back next week to see what I’ve found.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

Contributed by Guy de Lastin

No comments: