MannKind Reports – Has Exubera’s failure hurt it’s chances

MannKind Reports – Has Exubera’s failure hurt it’s chances

This morning MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) reported first quarter earnings and it appears the commercial failure of Exubera has made life more difficult for the company. Give Al Mann, founder of MannKind, credit for accurately characterizing Exubera’s commercial failure as a result of Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) misguided attempt to market Exubera on the one fact that the insulin does not have to be injected. Mr. Mann like Diabetic Investor said long ago that this one fact would not make Exubera a success as fear of injections is just one factor why physicians do not prescribe insulin treatment for their poorly controlled Type 2 patients.

Listening to today’s call Diabetic Investor couldn’t help but think that one reason Pfizer has not pulled the plug on Exubera is they don’t want any of their potential competitors to gain any traction. The fact of the matter is MannKind truly has a better product and not just because its delivery device is patient friendly. The MannKind product actually works very well even when compared to the newer forms of injectable insulin. This seems to matter little as when it comes to inhaled insulin as everyone looks at Exubera as the standard. This has put every company with an inhaled insulin product under development with the additional burden of proving they are not another Exubera. For a company in a desperate need of a partnership, like MannKind, it would have been better had Exubera succeeded. This would have validated the concept of inhaled insulin and made it much easier for them to find a partner.

The situation has become so bad that MannKind is being forced to switch gears and begin promoting the fact they are working on an inhaled GLP-1. While an inhaled form of a Byetta type compound would enhance sales of GLP-1’s, like insulin GLP-1’s are injected, there is no certainty this project will yield a commercially viable product. Even if it did it would not likely reach the market in the near future and by the time it did Amylin (NASDAQ:AMLN) should have their long-acting once-a-week version of Byetta on the market. Once this version of Byetta hits the market it will effectively kill the chances of any of the inhaled forms of insulin to be commercially successful.

While it is true not all poorly controlled Type 2 patients will make the switch to Byetta LAR, it’s fair to say that if approved Byetta LAR will be a mega-blockbuster paradigm changing therapy. What makes Byetta LAR so enticing is not just it’s effectiveness in controlling diabetes or the fact that patients see progressive weight loss. What makes Byetta LAR so exciting is patient compliance. It is a well known fact that the majority of Type 2 patients are not compliant with their daily therapy regimen and it does not matter whether they are on oral medications, insulin or a combination of orals and insulin. From a patient perspective what could be simpler than taking one injection a week.

This does not mean that there is not a market for safe, effective and easy to use inhaled insulin. It’s just not the $2 billion market Pfizer and many analysts thought it was. Hopefully MannKind can survive long enough to be part of the market.

David Kliff
Diabetic Investor
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