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February 9, 2011
Fanapt: Not Paying Out
Poker players in the audience may remember the old story of the guy who lost three cars over the years by drawing to try to fill inside straights - the first two when he came up empty, and the last time when he made his hand. You can have the same experience in drug development, too, for higher stakes.
Remember Fanapt (iloperidone)? That's the antipsychotic compound that bounced around from company to company during the 1990s, and nearly sank Vanda Pharmaceuticals a few years ago when the FDA gave them a "Not Approvable" letter. I predicted at the time that we'd never hear from them again, but to my surprise (and to Vanda's, I'd guess), the FDA reversed itself and let the compound through in 2009.
Novartis signed up to market the drug, and it was launched early last year. Some analysts predicted about $100 million in sales, growing to two or three times that number - not a blockbuster, but very welcome indeed for Vanda (and for earlier developer Titan, who still retained some rights). And now, reports Adam Feuerstein, we have the full-year numbers: $31 million, most of which appears to have been initial inventory stocking. Not good.
I've already tried to teach my kids not to draw to the inside straight. The more advanced player needs to try to work out if the pot offers a payout consistent with the risks, and to figure out what the chances of that payout might be, even if the hand comes through. . .
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