Lilly, Amylin suffer on Byetta deaths

Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals have reported four more deaths of patients taking the diabetes drug Byetta. This is in addition to the two deaths that made headlines last week.  

Both the FDA and the companies were aware of the acute pancreatitis deaths. The two deaths reported last week involved patients with necrotizing pancreatitis. While these four deaths were not due to pancreatitis, all of the patients had experienced the condition at some point.  

Both companies are seeing stock prices plummet as a result, although the drop is more painful for Amylin, since Byetta is the company's number one product. Amylin shares are down to about $25, while shares of Eli Lilly are just over $46. Some analysts say the reaction is overblown and that it is still safe to hold on to shares of both companies.

The companies maintain that there is no proven causal relationship thus far, but they are working with the FDA to up the warnings on the drug labels. A spokesperson for Lilly said that he believed that the cause of death likely related to something besides the acute pancreatitis in the four patients. No surprise here: a spokesperson for Amylin agreed.

- read the story in the New York Times
- see more at CNN Money
- hear what Pharmalot has to say
- find the Wall Street Journal blog post