Top 10 Weirdest Pharma Stories of the Month

Last Updated Aug 29, 2008 5:25 PM EDT

jonas1.jpgSometimes I come across items that aren't important enough to count as news but are nonetheless too strange to ignore. Thus, I give you the top 10 weirdest drug stories for August:
  1. The connection between O.J. and Preparation H. Ever wonder why the orange juice in your fridge lasts so long? Thank this guy: Dr. Robert George Blank, 79, who died Aug. 24. He was a VP/director of R&D at Wyeth. He also invented Preparation H, which he initially thought would turn out to be a burn treatment.
  2. Will Botox cure enlarged prostates? St. Joseph's Health Care London is doing a study in which Allergan's wrinkle-killer will be injected in to the prostates of men over 50. The logic of the study is that Botox's gentle poison will kill off some prostate cells, thus reducing the size of the gland. The docs are hoping that a single injection has the potential to replace a lifetime of pills such as Boehringer Ingelheim's Flomax.
  3. Viagra, Cialis and Levitra may cause memory loss. Where was I? Oh, right! The FDA has changed the warnings on these three top-selling erectile dysfunction pills because they may cause "transient global amnesia." "People who experience it lose their recall of events and can't remember where they are or how they got there," according to Dow Jones newswires. One presumes that the effects of the pill will soon remind them what they're supposed to be doing. This story also produced one of the best Dow Jones ledes ever: "While a certain effect of erectile-dysfunction drugs may last more than four hours, the memories may not last so long."
  4. Novo Nordisk asks 700 sales reps to "reconstruct reality." Are layoffs in the pharma biz getting you down? Not at Novo Nordisk, where they've found a cure for low morale, according to ABC. VP Frank Jacobs is sending his sales team -- all 700 of them -- copies of "Life Design Specialist and Architect" Ed Blunt's "Positive Power" CD. The reps will learn about the "active process of successful living," and, hopefully, create a "blazing trail of reconstructed realities, results and achievement! "Why isn't everyone else doing this?
  5. Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers shills for Bayer. Floppy-haired New Jersey boy band singer Nick Jonas signed up with Bayer to promote the "Walk In Nick's Shoes" sweepstakes and a Walk for the Cure event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Jonas (pictured) has type I diabetes. The press release makes Bayer's interest plain: "The W.I.N.S. sweepstakes kicks off the launch of Bayer's new CONTOUR(R) blood glucose meter... For Nick and his demanding schedule, that means using the CONTOUR(R) blood glucose meter with new testing features that allow him to personalize it to match his lifestyle." Keep on rockin, indeed!
  6. Gilead believes hibernating ground squirrels may cure heart disease. That's a vast oversimplification but it's still true: Gilead's Hiberna unit in Colorado has a lab full of poisonous snakes and squirrels. Scientists there are hoping the animals' extreme metabolic adaptations to their environment will provide some clues to preserving humans' hearts.
  7. MedImmune tries to put flu on the Democratic National Convention agenda. In a rare - and somewhat refreshing -- example of a gimmick drug campaign, the marketer of Flumist has developed this web site especially for the presidential campaign season. "This Fall, electing the next president isn't the only important choice to make." The perverse charm of the site is that it is not clear whether MedImmune is being serious or not.
  8. 1970s-style feminism is alive and well at Novo Nordisk. The quixotic Danes put out this press release in which they urged parity for the sexes, all over the planet, by 2015. It's part of Millennium Development Goal No. 3. "To empower women and promote gender equality." Aside from being nice, what is Novo's interest in all this? The answer: "Novo Nordisk is committed to creating awareness of how diabetes will impede development and women empowerment."
  9. Bayer thinks tobacco may cure cancer. You read that correctly. The company is conducting research into whether the evil weed can be used to grow a cancer vaccine. On behalf of all ex-smokers who really, really miss those menthols, I say Bayer, please knock this one out of the park!
  10. Contract killer gangs shoot two, stab one at Pfizer. You thought dealing with the Lipitor patent expiration was tough? Try being a union leader Pfizer in India. Some sort of rivalry there has burst into an all-out war. In addition to three attempted assassinations, police have made a series of arrests and "The Crime Branch has recovered five firearms, three choppers and 11 live rounds from the accused," according to Express India.