Pfizer announced that it will no longer market Exubera, an inhaled insulin device that it just began to promote heavily on TV.
"We made an important decision regarding Exubera, a product for which we initially had high expectations," said Jeff Kindler, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Despite our best efforts, Exubera has failed to gain the acceptance of patients and physicians. We have therefore concluded that further investment in this product is unwarranted."
Exubera had long been the butt of many blogger, patient, and even physician joke. Back in May, 2007, I hinted that the product would fail unless Pfizer came up with more innovative ways to promote it than by the usual DTC campaign (see "Pfizer's Exubera Strategy Needs a Bong Blog!").
One of my blog readers, Sunil S Chiplunkar, crafted this little diddy:
Pfizer with high hopes, launched the Exubera bong
Thought it would click like a gong
But missing is physician exuberance
All it got was malevolence
So will Exubera bomb?
Very prescient, I would say!
Is Kindler Next to Go?
Exubera is the second Pfizer product to bite the dust on CEO Jeff Kindler's watch. Kindler escaped blame for the torcetrapib failure (see "torcetrapib: "$800 Million" Failure but Kindler Safe"). At the time of the "$800 million" failure of torceptrapib, I commented that "neither Pfizer nor its new CEO Kindler can afford another '$800 million' loss."
It appears that the Exubera failure has cost Pfizer MUCH more than $800 million. According to Frank D’Amelio, Pfizer's Chief Financial Officer:
"The Exubera pre-tax charges of $2.8 billion related primarily to the write-off of assets associated with this product, as well as the accrual of other exit costs. More specifically, these charges are comprised of approximately $1.1 billion of intangible assets, $661 million of inventory, $454 million of fixed assets and $584 million of other exit costs."
That's $2.8 billion dollars -- about 3.5 times what the torceptrapib failure cost! Which goes to prove that the risk is less if pharma companies develop drugs in-house rather than purchasing them from an out-house (read this).
Will Kindler survive? You tell me by taking my little poll:
It appears reader sentiment is that Kindler WILL survive! He's definitely got on his Kevlar underwear!
But if this post over at the Pfizer company board on CafePharma is any indication, Kindler may not have much time left:
"one has to wonder... will the Pfizer board hold Kindler and his management team accountable for these results? Kindler inherited a bag of sh*t and he can't be blamed for the torcetrapib debacle, but one year has passed since McKinnell was tossed and there is absolutely no indication that this CEO and his team are capable of anything except dramatic organizational announcements and job cuts. Where's the long-awaited business strategy and vision? Why did it take over a year to figure out a strategy to reform PGRD? Does anyone except Jeff and the ELT believe these changes will yield meaningful results anytime during the next 5 years?
"You can't keep 90,000+ employees in a constant state of transition, demand organizational agility and speed, spend over 12 months building expectation that the leadership is thinking through an innovative business plan to improve the situation, then fail to deliver anything that resembles a detailed vision for the future of Pfizer. At some point, management needs to tell Pfizer's investors and employees what they plan to do and when they plan to do it.
"Time's up Jeff. It's time to deliver your plan, or it's time for new leadership."
-- RossMacLochness, "The Emporer Has No Clothes?"