Thursday, June 5, 2008

I’d like to see Pfizer rate Goldman for a change

The Wall Street Journal Blog by Scott Hensley reports that
Goldman Sachs lowered rating of Pfizer stock from buy to neutral.

Let’s not forget that Goldman Sachs is down over 30% since November 2007 because of the mismanagement in the entire banking sector. If the Fed+Chase’s bailout of Bear Sterns had not occurred, then Goldmans Sachs' stock may have sunk far lower than Pfizer's.

It fascinates me to see how financial institutions and investment bankers rate stocks and trigger market fluctuations in that sector, that many capitalize on.

I’d like to see Pfizer rate Goldman for a change.

By the way, much of Pfizer’s Chantix problems, and other pharmaceutical company misfortunes can be attributed to spending more time with Wall Street analysts than they do with their most important customers--physicians.

Doctors wrote prescriptions for about $270 billion in 2007. They control pharmaceutical sales to a great degree, yet pharma tends to ignore them and not communicate well when bad news comes out about a particular drug or class of drugs. The failure to communicate leaves doctors to make decisions based on sometimes exaggerated or sensationalized media reports rather than science from the drug manufacturers. The classic example is the recent Vytorin debacle which we’ve written about here.

The pharmaceutical sector will come back most likely sooner rather than later since health is the most important thing to humans, and advances made by pharma are responsible for much of our good health and extended longevity in recent decades. Clearly there is much more work that needs to be done.

However, I don’t think we’ll need to see the government bailing out Pfizer.

Robert Cykiert, M.D.

Putting the cart before the horse

Wall Street Journal reports that congress is working to force doctors to switch from hand-writing prescriptions to using new digital technology referred to as E-Prescribing.

E-Prescribing like all e-Things sounds great until you try to implement it. The problem with e-Prescribing at this time is that there is no one standard that doctors can adhere to, and no assurance that current platforms and protocols will persist.

One of the main reasons that physicians are not buying into electronic medical records is that they do not want to make a huge initial investment, pay for maintaining the system, and invest huge time in training staff only to find out that the government or some insurance industry group changes the standard in a year or two making their expensive systems obsolete.

A minority of physicians already have e-Prescribing in place, but it has limited value for the patient because the doctor’s system is tied to their office, and current pharmacy that the patient uses. If a patient goes to another doctor or switches from Rite Aid to CVS, then all the e-Pharmacy-Records become worthless.

Ideally, as with electronic medical records, there should be an online, universal e-drug-record that is accessible to all treating physicians, pharmacies and hospitals.

Bottom line: before the government mandates e-Prescribing and penalizes paper-prescribers, it should set a standard.

Robert Cykiert, M.D.