NEW YORK -- Last year, Pfizer paid Sanofi-Aventis $1.4 billion for Exubera, a new inhaled insulin product for diabetics that Pfizer forecast would produce $2 billion in sales every year.
What Pfizer got for its cash was a device that looks a lot like a marijuana bong—and a brand that analysts, doctors, drug sales reps and some patients believe is a struggle to sell because it is so inconvenient to use.
Yeah I can see it now: a diabetes sufferer, visibly disoriented from low blood sugar, fumbles with an awkward tubular device in a parking lot before huffing its fumes and breathing a sigh of relief. It's actually not that inconvenient…unless you get detained and searched by police in the middle of a medical emergency.
[Diabetes blogger Amy Tenderich] noticed a Pfizer instructional video on the Exubera Web site. It shows a man huffing on his Exubera tube at a restaurant table. The man “must live in a city as tolerant or as jaded as San Francisco or New York because not one patron even glanced over as he cocked and sucked on his medicinal bong,” she wrote. Exubera “really is as bad as it looks in the pictures.”
On the other hand, Pfizer could contact law-enforcement agencies across the country and convince them not to take action when they see people sucking on small bong-like devices. Surely that would solve the problem.
In fact, that would solve all sorts of problems.