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It’s been a roller-coaster year in biopharma. The Food and Drug Administration set a new record for drug approvals, and investors bought a record number of biotech initial public offerings. But the performance of those IPOs has been mixed and the most closely followed biotech stock index is negative for the year. For all the volatility on the business side of biotech, the industry’s ability to translate science into new medicines marches on — for now.

The end of the year also offers an opportunity: To determine the best biopharma CEO of the year. As in the past, this process is about more than just whimsy. I pored over spreadsheets, dug deep into medical journals, stared at stock charts, and consulted others while coming up with a list of finalists. A few worthy candidates didn’t make the cut.


At the end of this post, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite. Our champion will be announced next Monday. Oh, and stay tuned tomorrow for the worst CEO nominees.

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  • This survey is a measure of everything wrong with pharma, FDA and science business. Bottom line, you should stop pretending of willing to weed out the bad from the good, or celebrating innovation. And your audience is either composed mainly by fools or just greedy people who have no interest at all in the efficacy of a drug, as long as it is going to return a profit. Or probably both.
    Amarin, and hence its CEO, are a clear example of a scam dressed as search for a therapy. All the story is riddle with bad scientific practice and twisting results to sell a fraud. And the FDA is a partner in crime in validating such scam.

  • Adam – Would love an update on Amarin and REDUCE-IT. I’m an engineer and looked at the data. The mineral oil (MO) issue has been immensely exaggerated as Prof Bhatt pointed out. Benefit is the difference between the 2 curves in Fig 1 of the NEJM paper. MO could only slightly affect the upper curve, which rises only slightly as expected with aging. Lower curve bends down convincingly (no mineral oil there). More important IMO, and a major scoop for you if you pick it up, Vascepa clearly shows a startup period of at least a year (more like 1.5 years for hard MACE, NEJM editorial called it 2 years) where the 2 curves run together before benefits kick in. The clear implication is that the long-term benefit, after startup, can be expected to be greater than reported by the 4.9 year trial, by a factor of roughly 4.9/(4.9-1.0) = 1.25 giving primary endpoint RRR of 31% instead of 25%. The important hard MACE secondary endpoint, reported as 26%, with a 1.5 year startup, by similar reasoning can be expected to have RRR after startup of roughly 26 x 4.9/(4.9-1.5) = 37%. Heart attack RRR could be in the 40s. It’s speculation, but with a very solid basis.

    If you want to know how fast a car can go 100 miles on the freeway, when measuring its speed with a 1 minute observation, you need to leave out the beginning when it takes 15 seconds to get up to speed. Bhatt is seriously underpromising IMO, and I expect follow on papers to report much better RRR using the patient years accrued after the startup period. You heard it here first. Get on the right side of this story.

    As Harvard Med School prof Bhatt said on Morning Blend yesterday “we’re at the dawn of a new era in cardiovascular prevention” and “looking back in time this will be viewed as a major advance in cardiovascular medicine”. If you want to talk, my cell is 703-509-3273. You should probably talk to Bhatt, or just listen to his interviews (from AHA on youtube and ).

    • It’s only the beginning. Thank you for your truthful comment. Game changer. I have faith in Dr Bhatt. The medical community needs to get with the program. The sooner the better for at risk patients.

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