A letter from a friend at CCHR on Pfizer fizzing

I became acutely aware of the huge role Big Pharma played in drug pushing using supposedly scientific psych research and lots of promotion. That was 8 years ago and this week I spotted in the Sydney Morning Herald (Thurs 1st) that “the Australian Competition and Consumer Commisssion has introduced rules forcing pharmaceutical companies to declare all gifts to doctors”.
At CCHR many people tell us that they knew what their doctor was going to prescribe by just spotting the biggest bit of blatant advertising on the doc’s desk and this influence has been publicised a lot by CCHR.
This week I have been doing very busy but managed to spot a lovely bit of news in a financial newsletter from the USA on www.growthstockwire.com and I quote from them thru to the end of this post.
Last year, Pfizer spent $7.5 billion in research and development, a huge number for sure. Yet, it spent twice as much on marketing! That’s right, more than $15 billion on a legion of blond bombshells to push its top-sellers like Lipitor and Viagra…
Last December, Pfizer suffered a huge blow when it was forced to pull its top heart drug candidate due to “an imbalance of mortality and cardiovascular events” – meaning it actually induced deaths from heart attacks in clinical trials.
To add to its misery, the company announced two weeks ago that it was pulling yet another blockbuster-to-be off the market. But this time, it wasn’t because of safety problems. The problem was the company couldn’t sell the darn drug, even with its multibillion-dollar marketing budget.
The drug, called Exubera, was the first inhaled version of insulin on the market. The FDA approved it to treat diabetes back in October 2006. Yet, the company only managed to sell $12 million worth of the stuff so far this year. On the In the Pipeline daily blog, Derek Lowe, a drug discovery scientist, calls the sales “horrifyingly tiny… which can be rounded off to zero.”
Pfizer finally threw in the towel and pulled Exubera off the market, at a cost of $3 billion charged against earnings.
To anyone who knows anything about the drug industry, Pfizer is in big trouble. The company’s forecasts for both the side effect-prone heart drug and underperforming Exubera were well north of $2 billion per year. Pfizer hoped to stuff these new drugs in its sales bags in order to replace the $10+ billion it will lose in revenues when its patent on the world’s top-selling drug, Lipitor, expires in 2011.
With these two drugs now in the medical graveyard, there’s absolutely no way the company will be able to replace these expiring sales.
At a $170 billion market capitalisation, I wouldn’t consider touching Pfizer stock until it shed at least 40%-50% of its value, something I think will happen in three to four years’ time. When it does, a lot of folks are going to be unhappy when they open their retirement-fund statements. Pfizer is one of the most widely held stocks on the market. Fund managers just park money there, thinking the company will always be able to push its drugs to doctors and patients, a theory that was never disproved until the Exubera debacle.
I think Dr. Lowe nailed the company’s near-term future prospects:
“Pfizer’s situation remind[s] me of a slow-motion film of a train running toward a cliff… a colleague of mine said ‘Yeah, me too, but in this case they’re still boarding passengers and loading their luggage’.”

Here's your weekly Science Matters column by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

Human hormones mess with male fish
Most people alive today were born after 1950. To these people, our modern world is just the way things have always been. Imagining life without TV, radio, telephones and the Internet is next to impossible. Teenagers probably have a
hard time imagining life without text messaging!
And it’s true, human reach is now profound. We are the most integrated, interconnected and mobile species that has ever existed on this planet. Some of these interconnections produce marvelous results. We get to know other cultures. We understand more about history and each other. We can easily chat with friends and family on the other side of the world.
But we have to remember that, although we are connected with each other more than ever, we are also intimately connected to the rest of the natural world. These connections can manifest themselves physically, such as through global warming. But they can also manifest themselves biologically – and in some surprising ways.
Recently, researchers writing in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists reported that male fish became “feminized” when exposed to human hormones. Some of the fish, a type of fathead minnow, produced early-stage eggs in their testes while others actually developed tissues for both reproductive organs.
How would fish be exposed to female human hormones? Through treated or untreated municipal wastewater, of course. It seems that widespread use of birth control pills has elevated the amount of estrogenic substances going into our waste stream. Remember, things that go down our toilets don’t just disappear. They can actually survive simple sewage treatment processes and end up in our rivers, lakes and oceans.
Reports of fish feminization due to human female hormones are today fairly well documented – but long-term studies of what impact this can have on fish populations have not been done. For this latest study, researchers actually
added the synthetic estrogen found in contraceptive pills to a remote lake in northern Ontario in amounts that are normally found in human wastewater. They did this for three years, and monitored the results over a period of seven years.
The results were startling. As expected, the male fish developed some feminized characteristics, such as producing proteins normally synthesized in females. But what really disturbed the scientists was how populations of the fish crashed to near extinction levels by the end of the experiment. Feminization of the males combined with hormonal changes to the females apparently damaged their overall reproductive capacity to the point that the fish were unable to maintain their population.
Conclude the researchers: “The results from this whole-lake experiment demonstrate that continued inputs of natural and synthetic estrogens and estrogen mimics to the aquatic environment in municipal wastewaters could decrease the reproductive success and sustainability of fish populations.” This spells trouble. Most Canadians have probably never heard of the fathead minnow, but these fish are a vital food source for well-known and popular sport fish that people have heard of – such as walleye, lake trout and northern pike. They are also well-studied and often used in toxicology testing because they have short life cycles, adapt well to lab conditions and are representative of a large family of fish.
The report authors describe the fathead minnow as “a freshwater equivalent of the miner’s canary.” In other words, what happens to the fish, as with the bird, could happen to humans in short order unless we are very careful. Cell phones and the Internet aren’t our only connections with each other and with the world. We are biological creatures too and we have to remember that these are the connections that ultimately matter the most.
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