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November 1, 2006
You Can't Make Money If You Don't Get Paid
The German government has handed down some interesting pharmaceutical decisions recently. Although Sanofi-Aventis's Accomplia (rimonabant) is available there (in fact, that's probably the largest market it's shown up in so far), the German regulators have decided that state health care plans are not going to reimburse for it. They've put it in the "lifestyle" drug category, which they don't cover. This appears to be a cost-cutting move, and there's a 60-day window in which it can be changed.
S-A had better hope that HMOs here don't follow suit. Of course, for this to be an issue, the drug would actually have to be approved by the FDA here, and the company still has no details to offer about when they might expect that. Their quarterly report states that they've answered the FDA's concerns, which isn't much of an update, but goes no further, as far as I can see.
Meanwhile, Pfizer's inhaled insulin Exubera has also been denied reimbursement in Germany, which follows on a similar British decision earlier. I expressed doubts about the product here a while ago (I wasn't alone), and now the doubters are getting louder. Exubera hasn't been launched in the US, either, despite being approved early this year, which isn't helping sooth Pfizer's hardy investors, either. . .
Presumably both these products will debut here in 2007, and we can all see how they do in the most lucrative pharmaceutical market in the world. If anyone is thinking of making a big upside investment decision based on these compounds, though, I think they'd be well advised to sit on their money for a while.
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