This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
$1 buys you full access to ALL of TheStreet's Subscription Services! Learn More

After Exubera, Uncertainty Reigns

Bullish analysts knew diabetes was growing at a significant rate, and they felt others could make a simpler device than the cumbersome inhaler from Pfizer's partner Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR). They also figured that Exubera familiarize the Food and Drug Administration with inhaled insulin devices, accelerating future regulatory review.

After FDA approval, however, Exubera was hit by launch delays, manufacturing problems and a time-consuming educational effort for doctors and patients.

Insurers balked at paying for a product that was more expensive, but not more effective, than traditional insulin. After a big, last-ditch consumer marketing campaign produced little impact, Pfizer dropped Exubera, stopped work on a new inhaler and returned Exubera's rights to Nektar.

"It has now become clear that true convenience in the form of a discreet portable device is required in order to win over patients," Dr. Nick Karachalis, a cardiovascular analyst for the independent research firm Datamonitor, said last week. "A true therapeutic advantage compared to traditionally administered insulin needs to be proven to secure reimbursement."

Datamonitor has long been skeptical of Exubera, even when some sell-side analysts were predicting peak annual sales of $2 billion. "While inhalable insulins will see a reasonable level of uptake, they aren't the sure-fire blockbuster they were hyped to be," the firm said 12 months ago.

Some analysts still make the case for inhaled insulin. Exubera's epitaph is "too soon to write, in our view," Forman told clients last week. "Diabetes is a war over decades that's bigger than the battles over financial results or any one company's fortunes."

Others, though, are pessimistic. "If Pfizer felt that a smaller second-generation device had a chance of becoming a blockbuster, we do not think Pfizer would have abandoned the entire concept," says Jon LeCroy, of Natixis Bleichroeder, in a research report. "We do not see significant differentiation in the inhaled programs currently in development to allow any of them to be a blockbuster, especially in light of multiple players in the market."

Even the easiest-to-use inhaler must cope with crucial financial and medical issues. Will insurers reimburse for inhaled insulin if it costs more but doesn't work better than the injected version? And what about side effects, especially how long-term use of inhaled insulin affects the lungs?

Exubera patients had to undergo lung-function tests, and the product's label had warnings about potential side effects. Some people, such as smokers and those with lung ailments, were prohibited from using Exubera.

2 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,817.90 +7.84 0.04%
S&P 500 2,069.41 +5.91 0.29%
NASDAQ 4,754.8920 +41.9220 0.89%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs