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Genentech Opens Eyes on Big Pharma

Its macular degeneration results point up how the big drug firms have no new-drug traction.
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Editor's note: This story was originally published on RealMoney on May 24 at 8:15 a.m. EDT.

I know what we want from






: We want them to be



. Because we remember when they



I am using Genentech as short-hand for a company that keeps making news, not with commercials about superfluous drugs with big side effects and large ad budgets, but brand new drugs that cure things like, well, blindness.

Last night, after the close on a sleepy May day, DNA announces that its trials for an anti-blindness drug are going so well that 95% of the people taking the drug have had some improvement. That's fabulous, that's much better than anything



has, much better than anything anybody has.

We all recall a time when Merck, Pfizer,



and the other dinosaurs used to hit the tape regularly with new drugs that did great things. Now they only hit the tape with recalls, lawsuits, indictments and generic struggles. They are all in crisis mode and very little of their "stories" involve new, exciting drugs that can make a difference.

Now I know that they would rebel against this viewpoint and talk up something they have in the pipe that I am giving short shrift to. But we just came out of a big cancer confab and the story there was Genentech. We just got this news about blindness and the story, again, was Genentech.

Excuse me, but I see a pattern. And the pattern doesn't include Big Pharma, which is the real reason why those stocks never seem to do anything anymore.

James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of He contributes daily market commentary for's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for and, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. To see his personal portfolio and find out what trades Cramer will make before he makes them, sign up for Action Alerts PLUS by

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