Pompe & Circumstance

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  • 12/02/2005

The following entry from Bob Goldberg …

Geeta’s Self-Promoting Genzyme Jihad

Geeta Anand is a Pulitzer winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has made her mark as a clone of former WSJer Gardiner Harris who now owns the “hate the drug company” corner at The New York Times, otherwise known as the print media’s version of Lord of the Flies. That is, Geeta connects the dots in breathless fashion about misdeeds and dangers aplenty in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly self-dealing financial conflicts that place profits ahead of the public health. One of her more famous articles involved revealing that Sam Waksal who headed up Imclone, had overstated his medical credentials. The point she tried to make at the time: both the drug (Erbitux) and the company’s chief were overpromoted to bilk shareholders. Ms. Anand has never written a follow up story about how effective Erbitux has turned out to be. But I digress.

Now she is going after Genzyme for charging too much for their drugs. (Through Charities, Drug Makers Help People — and Themselves, The Wall Street Journal. 12/1/2005). Genzyme is a fairly diversified biotech concern that started out and is still involved in develop biotech products for rare diseases. Most recently she pounded Genzyme for charging $250,000 a year for Fabrazyme, a disease that less than 100,000 people in America have. Genzyme recently became profitable and is still investing in drugs for other rare diseases. But Anand ignores these two facts in her most recent screed against Genzyme. More interesting, (I can breathlessly connect the dots too!) Anand did a piece on how a father with two daughters suffering from another orphan illness called Pompe Disease, created a biotech firm and needing more funding to develop a drug for the illness, sold the company to none other than Genzyme for about $140 million. Genzyme has taken the drug through clinical trials and has invested hundreds of millions in developing production processes required to produce the drug (if it is approved) on a mass scale.

Geeta ignores all these facts in her attack on Genzyme’s pricing policies. She does so not only to fit her jihad against drug companies as price gougers. She also has a book and movie deal based on her article about Genzyme’s involvement in the search for a Pompe cure. (Insider龝 note: Harrison Ford is slated to play the father.) Given the politics and inner workings of Hollywood — it makes sense to have the author of the book upon which the movie is based to portray Genzyme — which didn’t have to invest in the drug — as evil. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to pick on Genzyme in the run-up to the book’s release next June. Finally when was the last time Hollywood or Geeta ever portrayed a drug company that made money in a favorable light? I wonder if she will give her advance back if the film/book doesn’t turn a profit? Then again, I am sure am missing something because I am just connecting the dots!


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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