First, and foremost, pharma is a business

pharma businessKEY TAKEAWAY: While there is talk of “patient engagement” and being more customer focused the failure of BMS’s drug, in a late stage clinical trial, is proof that pharma, above all else, is a business focused on the balance sheet.

When the news broke that BMS’s Opdivo did not meet end points in a clinical study it was all over the Internet but not for the reason we might think.  The primary story was the effect on BMS’s stock price and how analysts were now cutting the earnings outlook of the drug.  However, the real losers here are patients who could have benefitted from this blockbuster drug.

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[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Wall Street is focused on one thing: how are drugs going to affect the balance sheet.[/inlinetweet]  They could give a damn about patients who are hoping for a drug that can help them fight cancer.  Mr Merck’s principle of what’s good for patients is good for business doesn’t seem to apply here and I get that.  What really had me upset were people from Celgene and Merck “gloating” about BMS’s failure on LinkedIn.  That, in my opinion is despicable.

Competing pharma companies should always root that any drug successfully navigates a clinical  trial because that means that the bar has been set higher and that we have to develop better medications to help cancer patients.  There are too many “me too” drugs on the market as pharma companies battle for a slice of, what they see, as a lucrative market.

Win-Win

BMS has a lot of other clinical trials underway for Opdivo and the drug is well on its way to becoming a super blockbuster. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Success should be counted in the number of people who are still here after completing treatment not always the stock price.[/inlinetweet]