Another blow to oral insulin

Another blow to oral insulin

Lost in the shuffle during last week’s multiple earnings calls was a statement made by Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) in their first quarter earnings release which stated:

“Novo Nordisk has completed a phase 1 study with rapid-acting insulin analogue, NN1952, which is designed for oral administration. Due to significant influence of food-intake on the predictability of the rapid-acting insulin analogue in current formulation, Novo Nordisk has decided to focus activities within insulin for oral administration on long-acting insulin. In April 2011 Novo Nordisk progressed a long-acting insulin for oral administration, NN1953, into phase 1 clinical testing.”

Back in February the company also closed their oral GLP-1 project stating: “After review of phase 1 data, Novo Nordisk has decided to terminate further clinical development of the oral GLP-1 project, NN9925, due to insufficient bioavailability.”

This news is hardly surprising as Diabetic Investor has never taken oral insulin or oral GLP-1 delivery seriously.  For years many have tried with zero success to develop an oral formulation of insulin. The general theory is that patients and physicians would embrace insulin therapy if we could just eliminate the need for injections. A similar theory is developing for GLP-1 therapy.  This is also the same theory that was the primary driver for the many, now dead inhaled insulin projects.

In many respects all these attempts to eliminate the needle remind Diabetic Investor of the equally dubious effort to develop a non-invasive glucose monitoring system.  One thing both projects have in common is they have wasted millions of dollars and have yet to yield a signal viable product.  Yet even with this horrendous track record, companies in both areas are still able to raise even more money. All on the flawed premise that it is the needle that is the primary reason more patients aren’t on insulin or don’t check their glucose levels on a regular basis.

At some point it would seem logical that investors would realize all of these efforts have about as much chance of success as Diabetic Investor being able to hit a Randy Johnson fastball. Yet these companies continue to find investors who buy into this theory. These are probably the same people who believe the US faked the moon landing.  Frankly Diabetic Investor has no sympathy for these investors who continually prove there is no cure for stupid.

Just how stupid are these people consider that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) wasted $4 billion on Exubera and Al Mann, the founder of MannKind (NASADQ: MNKD), has seen his once considerable fortune shrink as he continues to pour money into his personal sink hole. Then look at the hundreds, and we are not exaggerating here, of companies who have attempted to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor.  Add in the many failed efforts at oral insulin and it all adds up to one big fat zero.

Diabetic Investor is seriously considering starting a support group for these investors similar to what’s been done with alcoholics and drug addicts, giving them a place where they can go and deal with their addiction to making dumb investments. Step one in our twelve step program would be to avoid any investment that is based on the premise that patients are somehow adverse to injections or needles. Step two would require participants to make a list of all the companies that have succeeded. Step three, make another list of all the companies that have tried and failed. Step four, compare the two lists. Step five, avoid any company that has merely renamed itself and is basically selling the same crap under a different name. Step six, same goes for the people involved in the company if they have worked at any of the failed companies, avoid them like the plague. Step seven; learn something, anything about diabetes. Step eight; avoid any company whose strength lies in making fancy presentations. Step nine, repeat over and over that if something sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t true. Step ten; avoid any company that promises to revolutionize diabetes management. Step eleven; avoid any company that says they will make billions once they succeed. Step twelve; avoid any company whose exit strategy is to be acquired by a major player in diabetes.

At the end of each meeting repeat; “Give me the strength not to be duped into making any more stupid investments.”