It's been a long time since the flu season and the glitzy campaign for MedImmune's
MedImmune will cut the cost of the vaccine by half; its steep price was one of the major barriers to the vaccine's success. Skipping the needle is, of course, a great idea, but not at an average $46 a sniff, a high price to avoid a minute of needling. The new price will be $23.50, much closer to the $10-to-$20 range for traditional flu vaccines.
Now that MedImmune's cut its ties with FluMist partner Wyeth
As much as the price cut improves FluMist's prospects, there's a lot left to consider. The vaccine still needs to be frozen, one reason doctors haven't warmed up to it, and it's not approved for all age groups, including the very old and the very young -- the exact groups with the most dire need.
The fact that FluMist contains a weak but live virus gave people the creeps, and also spelled trouble when health experts were warned of possibly limiting contact with patients with compromised immune systems if they had received FluMist. That's just another reason health professionals may have perceived FluMist as the wrong choice.
For some investors, MedImmune's sharp FluMist humiliation over recent months has spelled an apt, if risky, time to buy. The stock is currently 41% lower than its 52-week high, and suffered even worse in the winter months.
Proponents point to its other products, such as Synagis and Ethyol; a promising pipeline; and the fact that the worst is likely over for FluMist. However, as was recently pointed out by Fool contributor Charly Travers, cutting ties with Wyeth is an expensive turn of events that will drag on earnings for some time.
So, it seems there's no rush to jump on board. FluMist won't be the product investors hoped it would be for a long while. Given the current state of affairs, it seems prospective investors have plenty of time to wait on the sidelines and watch further developments before snapping up a stake in MedImmune.
For an in-depth look at the pros and cons of a MedImmune investment, check out Bargain Hunting in Big Biotech , by Charly Travers.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.