As we head into a well deserved Holiday weekend Diabetic Investor finds it amusing that Exubera has gone from a sure-fire blockbuster product to one of the worst product launches in history. Recently there have several articles written about Exubera and just how badly the product has performed. The most recent came today in the San Jose Mercury News- http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_6767521?nclick_check=1.
Diabetic Investor can’t resist a little gloating here as we predicted long ago that Exubera was nothing more than a niche product and would fail to reach the sales figures many projected.
Even worse many of the pundits who are now examining Exubera’s failure still are clueless as to the real reasons Exubera failed. These are the same people who foolishly believed Exubera would be a blockbuster just because patients would not be subject to the pain of injections. As Diabetic Investor has been saying for years patients are more afraid of insulin then they are of injections. Insulin therapy is complex; a physician cannot simply prescribe insulin without also providing some form of patient education. Exubera’s problems were compounded by the fact that its delivery device was cumbersome and less than patient friendly.
Still Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) continues to waste shareholder’s money as they have yet to pull Exubera from the market. Their latest blunder is the direct to consumer ad campaign. Just why they are continuing to throw more money into a bad product is anyone guess.
Investors should not sour on inhaled insulin as there will be a quality product on the market in the future. Several companies are working towards this end and there is a place for inhaled insulin. However, even with a more patient friendly delivery device inhaled insulin will always be insulin. This fact alone will be a limiting factor when it comes to commercial success, especially since the product is targeted at Type 2 patients.
Ironically the biggest threat to inhaled insulin will come from an injectable product – the long acting once a week version of Byetta which we covered in our last issue. Byetta LAR has what patients and physicians crave – effectiveness and simplicity. And yes it is that simple.