Diet drug Alli under FDA investigation due to liver damage

I remember all the hype that surrounded the release of the first FDA approved over the counter diet drug, namely Alli. At that time, I guess GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) experienced a welcomed surge in their share price. I wonder what’s going to happen now, when the news of 32 users experiencing liver damage hit the net.

If you are in the stock market you know that a press release may have a huge influence on the price of a security. Of course, talking about a big company like GSK, the news is probably going to be swept under the rug. Already FDA took position defending the drug by saying that “No definite association between liver injury and orlistat [the generic name for the drug] has been established.”
At the same time, GSK said overweight or obese people are predisposed to liver related disorders, and ‘there is no evidence that Alli causes liver damage’.
However, FDA is required to investigate the claims.

Keep in mind that earlier this year, the FDA nixed the sale of another promising weight loss pill, rimonobant, because of concerns over mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. Rimonobant is a cannabinoid receptor. (Should I say more about the ‘benefits’ of smoking marihuana?)
Manufactured by Sanofi- Aventis and sold under the name Acomplia, it has been authorized in July 2007 by European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and is marketed in 13 European countries. However, it’s not been considered safe enough for sale in the United States. Somehow Alli stood a better chance. Or maybe Glaxo had better lobbying skills. Or maybe Sanofi decided to stop using Bristol-Myers Squibb to market Acomplia in the United States, as they have previously done for two of Sanofi’s best-selling drugs- the blood-thinner Plavix and the blood pressure pill Avapro. According to some rumors, Bristol-Myers took about half the drugs’ American profits.

Until FDA and GSK are doing the typical damage control, the demand for Alli is expected to drop, along with Glaxo’s revenue for the sale of the drug.

Today GSK closed at $39.15, down $0.29 from yesterday. After hours market showed an increase of $0.11 (shorts kicking into action?) to $39.26.

Note: I have no idea who in their right mind would even attempt to use Alli considering that GSK warned about the very unpleasant side effects including soiling your pants if you eat too much fat.

Headlines – August 21, 2009

Markets rise on Bernanke evaluation of economic recovery

As per Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman
“After contracting sharply over the past year, economic activity appears to be leveling out, both in the United States and abroad “
The immediate response was the rise on global markets.
FTSE 100 (UK) was up 1.98%
Dax (Germany) up 2.86%
Cac 40 (France) up 3.15%
Dow Jones (USA) up 1.67%
Nasdaq (USA) up 1.59%
TSX (Canada) up 1.22%

But Mr. Bernanke warned that the road to recovery would be a long one, with unemployment reaching 10% (Note: the actual unemployment sits probably around 15%).

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that the US economy will expand by 0.75% next year, after earlier predicting no growth.
“Bernanke was a little bit more bullish than most people were expecting,” said Jacob Oubina, currency strategist at
“He’s saying that the global economy is starting to emerge from the recession and that the fears of a financial collapse have receded substantially.
“I think the market is just taking those headlines as extreme positives for the outlook.”

Mexico eases drug possession laws

The Mexican government has enacted a law decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
Those found in possession of the equivalent of four joints of marijuana, or four lines of cocaine will no longer be viewed as criminals.

The reason for the move: To prevent corrupt police from seeking bribes from small-time drug users, and to encourage addicts to seek treatment- which will be compulsory if users are caught a third time.

9 trillion dollars is forecasted US deficit for the next ten years

According to a US official, President Barack Obama’s administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit forecast to about nine trillion dollars, up about two trillion from the previous forecast.
The new figure will give Republicans ammunition against President Obama’s plans to remake US health care and fight climate change.

Opel winner still undisclosed

As a reminder: The U.S. government, which financed GM’s U.S. bankruptcy, has ruled out using any of the $50 billion it has provided to the Detroit-based automaker to support its international operations. As a result, GM decided to sell Opel and recently it’s Saab division- which was purchased by a Swedish carmaker.
After Italy and China dropped from the race, only two other bids were taken into consideration for the Opel division.
One was the Canadian company Magna and its Russian partner Sberbank(with the Russian carmaker GAS Group having the right to purchase Sberbank’s stake) ; the other one was Brussels based RHJ.
Germany’s government, which faces elections next month, has offered its financial backing for the Magna bid because it believes it would be the best option to save jobs. In Germany, Opel employs over 25,000 people in four major plants, in the U.K., there are two key factories that produce automobiles under the Vauxhall badge and other facilities are in Belgium, Poland and Spain.
Berlin and the German states that host Opel plants have made clear they want Magna to get the carmaker and are set to provide 4.5 billion Euros ($6.4 billion) in state aid to make it happen.
The final decision seems to be influenced by what type of aid the German government will provide in case RHJ wins the bid.

GM would rather pick RHJ, probably mostly due to the fact that Magna is associated with a Russian carmaker which obviously targets the big Russian market that would be out of touch for GM. To understand what cars is Opel manufacturing we should mention that
Opel’s Astra compact competes with the Volkswagen Golf and that other best sellers include the small Corsa model and the mid-sized Insignia, which was voted European Car of the Year by automotive journalists.

Insignia is going to be sold in North America under Buick Regal name, starting late 2010. It’s currently sold in Chile as Chevrolet Vectra and in the U.K. as Vauxhall Insignia.

Opel Insignia Sports Tourer

Bill Maher calling America ‘stupid’

I should start by saying that I really enjoy watching ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’, especially the new rules segment.
Now it looks like he stirred another controversy by calling America stupid. The following article is taken from the Huffington Post.

“New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn’t make it a smart country. A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country. It was amazing – in the minute or so between my calling America stupid and the end of the Cialis commercial, CNN was flooded with furious emails and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! It’s how they get the blood circulating when the Cialis wears off. Worst of all, Bill O’Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which A) proves my point, and B) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him.

Now, the hate mail all seemed to have a running theme: that I may live in a stupid country, but they lived in the greatest country on earth, and that perhaps I should move to another country, like Somalia. Well, the joke’s on them because I happen to have a summer home in Somalia… and no I can’t show you an original copy of my birth certificate because Woody Harrelson spilled bong water on it.

And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”

And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

Which is the way our founding fathers wanted it. James Madison wrote that “pure democracy” doesn’t work because “there is nothing to check… an obnoxious individual.” Then, in the margins, he doodled a picture of Joe the Plumber.

Until we admit there are things we don’t know, we can’t even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can’t stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: “My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying… It is like saying ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'” To which most Americans would respond: “Are you calling my mother a drunk?”

I am not going to debate the article, I am just going to remind you that Jay Leno used to interview ordinary people in the segment ‘Jay Walk’ and the answers or the lack of them, to simple questions, were mind boggling. Pretty much reinforcing the message of the above article.

People are kept in ignorance to be easily manipulated. Knowledge means power and what the current politicians need is a herd of misinformed or not informed followers. And this is what they have. Religious freaks with no common sense.