Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Say What?


From time to time, John Jenkins is puzzled by the press releases he reads from drug companies.

Jenkins, the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs, said when companies communicate an FDA action on their products to investors, they sometimes don’t convey it so accurately.  Click here to listen to his comments.

“We don’t monitor what the company says routinely about every action that we take,” Jenkins told the Reuters Health Summit in New York. “But there are times when we become aware of what the companies are saying relative to what we know is in the letters and we don’t think they add up.

“There are occasions where we call the companies and voice to them our concern that what they’re saying about what’s in the letter versus what we think the letter actually said are not consistent. There have actually been cases where we’ve referred some of those situations to the (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission).”

What is WellPoint?


With 35 million members, WellPoint is the largest U.S. health insurer by enrollment. But the company realized it had finally arrived when it turned up in a quiz show question.

“Wellpoint was the answer to a Jeopardy question,” Chief Executive Angela Braly beamed, referring to the long-running television quiz show. “The question was, ‘what does WellPoint provide to 1 in 9 Americans?’ The answer is health insurance but the contestant said ‘life insurance’ which our life people are really excited about because we do sell life insurance but that was not the answer.”

Big Pharma slow to get the picture


Like Kodak’s failure to shift from away from film faster in the face of digital cameras, the world’s top drug makers are dragging their heels in rethinking they way they do business.

At least that’s the view of Bain & Co partner Tim van Biesen, who told the Reuters Health Summit there were clear parallels between the revolution in photography and the looming slump in sales and profits as old blockbuster drugs face a cliff of patent expiries.

AUDIO-Medco eyes expansion in Europe to fuel long-term growth



With at least $60 billion in U.S. annual sales of brand name medicines going off patent between now and 2012 — Medco is in a sweet spot.

The question on investors’ minds? What will spur growth beyond the generic windfall five years out? CEO David Snow told the Reuters Health Summit expansion plans in Europe will be one of those drivers, and said talks are going on right now.

AUDIO-Momentum is there for biogenerics in US: Teva


barrett.jpgBiogenerics in the U.S. will happen — it’s just a matter of when, according to Teva Pharmaceuticals’ head of North America.

George Barrett told the Reuters Health Summit that while next year is a toss-up given it’s an election year, setting up the regulatory pathway for biogeneirics to get to market is critical in the next two years ahead of wave of patents due to expire in five years.

AUDIO-Medco plays “Switzerland” role when it comes to retail–Snow



Medco’s rival last year linked-up with CVS to create CVS/Caremark. But getting into retail is not for Medco CEO David Snow.

At the Reuters Health Summit, Snow listed his concerns regarding the reatail business — mainly the perception of a conflcit of interest — that lead him to embrace a neutral role as an independent benefits manager.  

AUDIO-Society expectations on side effects weighing on FDA-Shire CEO


shire.jpgIndustry critics of the FDA often charge the agency is too conservative and under funded.

But Shire Pharmaceuticals CEO Matthew Emmens tells the Reuters Health Summit there is an unrealistic expectation by society about complex drugs on the market that is making the regulatory environment  that much tougher. 

AUDIO-Humer bearish on MegaDeal$


humer.jpgEven with a hostile $3 billion bid for Ventana on the table, Roche’s Franz Humer says you won’t find him anywhere near a mega deal in Big Pharma. A monster acquisition stifles innovation, it destroys pipelines … let Franz count the ways.

CEO Humer was one of the featured speakers at this year’s Reuters Health Summit. For more of Humer’s comments, take a look at our continuing coverage of the Summit, running through Thursday in Reuters New York offices.

AUDIO-US scientific leadership may follow the automobile and the computer … to Asia


hassan.jpgThe future of scientific innovation in the U.S. is in jeopardy, according to Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan.

Without support from both political parties and proper funding for the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. will lose its leadership role in medicine to countries in Asia.