MannKind Rebuilds

MannKind Rebuilds

Now firmly in control of Afrezza, MannKind (NASDAQ: MNKD) is rebuilding itself. Today the company had two announcements, the first being the addition of two new executives. According to a company issued press release;

“MannKind Corporation (MNKD) today announced two senior appointments to its commercial organization.  Joining the Company are Joseph Saldanha as Vice President of Marketing and Agustin (Tino) Quintero as Vice President of Market Value, Access and Trade.  Both will report to Michael Castagna, MannKind’s Chief Commercial Officer.”

Mr. Saldanha brings with him a wealth of diabetes experience as according to the release;

“He has experience marketing oral anti-diabetic medications, insulins (both injectable and inhaled), and medical devices.  Mr. Saldanha commercialized Sanofi’s Lantus® in the Intercontinental Region.  After returning to the U.S., he was part of the team that commercialized the Lantus SoloSTAR® pen.  In addition to heading up Sanofi’s strategy and medical education teams, he was responsible for all hospital business.  Mr. Saldanha launched an initiative with Certified Diabetes Educators® to train patients in diabetes and the appropriate use of insulin.  Prior to that, Mr. Saldanha served as Director of Business Development for the insulin delivery device business at Johnson and Johnson Diabetes (LifeScan®/Animas®).”

For the moment we won’t hold anything against Mr. Saldanha because he used to work for our wine drinking friends in France. In fact, a strong argument could be made that the fact he left Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) shows he’s smarter than the average bear. On the flip side however one could argue given the demise of Lantus and how Afrezza did when Sanofi was still partnered with MannKind, Mr. Saldanha may be infected with the Sanofi virus. Still let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that the Sanofi virus is now gone.

While Mr. Quintero may not have diabetes experience he does bring with him experience in the important managed care arena as according to the release;

“He joins MannKind from AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, where he served as National Managed Care Executive.  In this role, Mr. Quintero was responsible for negotiating AbbVie’s portfolio of products (including Humira®) while developing contracting and pricing strategies for hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and oncology product launches.”

We are grateful that he did not work at Abbott (NYSE: ABT) who like Sanofi seems to have the reverse Midas touch when it comes to diabetes.

The other piece of news is the company has rescheduled their conference call which was scheduled for today moving it to next week. According to a press release;

“MannKind Corporation (MNKD) has postponed its analyst call scheduled for today, April 19, 2016, due to the unavailability of its Chief Executive Officer, Matthew J. Pfeffer.  Mr. Pfeffer was diagnosed overnight with a retinal detachment, and is undergoing emergency surgery this morning to correct the condition.”

First let’s send our well wishes to Mr. Pfeffer and hope all goes well. Second this unexpected delay will likely benefit the company as it will give the new executives time to get up to speed on Afrezza.

Still the hurdles faced by MannKind and its new hires are substantial. And while it’s nice to see that MannKind is being proactive these new hires unfortunately don’t bring with them what the company needs most, time and money. Let’s hope that they do bring a realistic view of what Afrezza is and what it is not. That they understand that Afrezza is nothing more than a niche drug and not the mega-blockbuster many thought it was.

There is a place for Afrezza in the treatment paradigm as the drug does work, no one has ever disputed that fact. The problem for MannKind and Afrezza has always been unrealistic expectations. As Momma Kliff used to say better to under promise and over perform than to over promise and under perform.