Transcript: What a Relief

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 12, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: From high drug prices to the high price of competition, thanks to Pfizer's Bextra and Merck's Vioxx, pulled from the shelves, Abbott Laboratories (ABT) saw an increase in demand for its painkiller drug, Mobic, its quarterly net earnings rising 1.8 percent.

Joining us now from Chicago is Miles White. Mr. White is the chairman and CEO of Abbott Labs.

Good to have you, sir. Thank you for coming.


CAVUTO: I know your pain reliever drug doesn't quite carry the cushion or the markup that some of these other drugs do. But it did help you this quarter. How much?

WHITE: Well, it did.

You know, I don't know how much. Mobic is a drug that we co-promote with our partner, Boehringer Ingelheim. It's actually their drug. But, as you note, this medicine has clearly benefited from the difficulties that Vioxx and Bextra and others have had. I think the drug in the quarter was over $280 million. So, it's well on track to be over a $1 billion drug this year.

We make about 10 percent on it, which isn't a lot from a margin standpoint. But, still, on a $1 billion drug, 10 percent is pretty good, so we'll take that.

CAVUTO: Yes, not too shabby.


CAVUTO: But did you look at the case with Pfizer with Bextra and Merck with Vioxx and think, gee, there but by the grace of God go us?

WHITE: Well, you know, ours is a high-risk business. And any time we see something like that happen to one of the members of our industry, sure, you have a little bit of that feeling, because I suppose, at any given point in time, we could learn something about a drug that would change the risk-benefit profile.

We try to monitor those things pretty closely, as the FDA does and we all do as an industry. But, sometimes, like what happened in this category, it comes from nowhere and it's pretty surprising.

CAVUTO: But it's coming from nowhere a lot more often now. We just mentioned the Biogen Idec situation, with their Tysabri M.S. drug, drugs that are taken off the market suddenly. There tends to be the tendency to shoot first, ask questions later. What do you make of that?

WHITE: Well, I think that the way the public and certainly politicians and regulators are viewing that risk-benefit tradeoff has shifted to a lot more consideration of risk more than it has benefit.

Almost all drugs have some form of side effect, no matter how rare it may be. And I think that there's been an awful lot of attention in the media and the public eye on the risk side, without consideration for the benefits of these medicines for people. And that's often determined between a physician and a patient.

So I think it's in some ways natural that a lot of the alarm and attention has been paid on the risk side, probably overly so. It doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention to that — to the side effects of drugs. In fact, we should monitor them very closely. But I think we also have to pay attention to the benefit that they bring patients and get that in the right balance. And the last few months, I don't think we've been in balance.

CAVUTO: Good point. Good point.

Miles White, chairman and CEO of Abbott Labs, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

WHITE: You bet. Nice to be here.

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