What Became Of Ex-Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan’s Five Pipeline “Stars”?


Fred Hassan’s “five stars” — from early 2008 now include three drug candidates that have been essentially pulled: (1) the thrombin receptor antagonist (TRA), called vorapaxar, (2) vicriviroc (terminated mid-2010, after a study disappointment) and (3) sugammadex, which has received a 2009 “non-approvable” letter from FDA (and last week, at the Citi conference, Merck said it is still deciding how to respond on that topic to FDA) but sugammadex is selling, in waifish volumes, in parts of the EU.

Here it all is, in context, from Mr. Hassan’s 2007 SEC Form 10-K, near the bottom of page 31:

. . . .A key component of the Action Agenda is applying science to meet unmet medical needs. Research and development activities focus on mechanisms to treat serious diseases. As a result, a core strategy of Schering-Plough is to invest substantial funds in scientific research with the goal of creating therapies and treatments that address important unmet medical needs and also have commercial value. Schering-Plough has been successful in advancing its pipeline into several late-stage projects that will require sizable resources to complete. Consistent with this core strategy, Schering-Plough is increasing its investment in research and development. As Schering-Plough continues to develop the later phase growth-drivers of the pipeline (e.g., sugammadex, thrombin receptor antagonist, golimumab, vicriviroc, boceprevir and asenapine), it anticipates higher spending on clinical trial activities. Schering-Plough’s progressing early pipeline includes drug candidates across a wide range of therapeutic areas with more than 20 compounds now approaching or in Phase I development.

As part of the Action Agenda, Schering-Plough continues to work to enhance infrastructure, upgrade processes and systems and strengthen talent — both the recruitment of talented individuals and the development of key employees. While these efforts are being implemented on a companywide basis, Schering-Plough is focusing especially on research and development to support Schering-Plough’s science-based business. . . .

Of each of those, only asenapine and golimumab are really in the US markets here in 2012. And asenapine is posting less than $130 million in world wide sales per quarter, making it a vastly disappointing “me too” drug. Known as Simponi, the rights to golimumab are presently under arbitration, with the possibility that it will return to Centocor/Johnson & Johnson. Boceprevir is losing the race to market (arrival as early as May 2011) against the more efficacious J&J/Vertex product called telaprevir.

So that’s about 0.25 for 5, right? [I am counting Simponi as a one-quarter chance for success, here — otherwise it would be 0 for 5.]

This post was an after-thought, to the prior one on Organon’s current supply-chain issues — another headache for New Merck, courtesy of Ex-CEO Hassan.

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