A turbulent week for Fred Hassan

Wonder what it was like to be Fred Hassan (photo) last week, when his top products were getting hammered first at the American College of Cardiology meeting and then in the press? The Star-Ledger has a behind-the-scenes play-by-play that shows the Schering-Plough CEO shuttling back and forth from conference calls about Vytorin and meetings at the company's executive confab in Miami, then boarding a jet back to New Jersey, where the talk turned to layoffs.

"We were building on each other's ideas," Hassan told the newspaper, "and I started to say we have to be more forceful in our response and more speedy." Then, Hassan hashed it over with CFO Robert Berolini, coming up with an outline based on emergency plans Schering already had ready. Wednesday morning, Hassan went into his office, shut the door, and "scratched out" a $1.5 billion restructuring plan.

Schering's stock, of course, dropped precipitously on recommendations from the ACC panel and others that Vytorin and Zetia be used only after most other cholesterol-lowering remedies fail. Hassan's cost-cutting plan cheered some investors, though, and some stock analysts remain optimistic about the drugs' long-term prospects, expecting Vytorin to still bring in $4.7 billion in sales in 2008. Naysayers, however, expect a drop-off of up to 50 percent. It all depends on how doctors interpret the news.

- see the Star-Ledger article
- get analyst feedback at Pharmalot
- check out other sales predictions at Question Authority

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