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Questions for the pharma industry? Ask Roger Perlmutter, EVP R&D at Amgen

Posted by: Helen Walters on October 31, 2008

The stream of top executives who make a detour to BusinessWeek Towers (and our offices around the world) to chat about strategy, business and plans for the future is impressive and unending. Our readers are smart, opinionated and passionate. In order to join the dots, we’re launching a new feature in which our readers get to ask the questions and set the agenda for a Q&A video interview. Each week, a reporter will put five — attributed — reader questions to the executive in the hot seat, asking follow-up questions where necessary.

First up, senior writer Arlene Weintraub will put your questions to Dr Roger M. Perlmutter, executive vice president of R&D at Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company. He’s coming in on Thursday 6 November; we’ll post the video the following week.

Below is some blurb from Arlene about why Perlmutter matters. If you have a question for him, please post in the comments — with your full name as you’d like to be credited, and your location too. Thanks for supporting our new venture!

An M.D., Ph.D. and former biology professor, Perlmutter worked for four years at Merck before joining Amgen in 2001. It was a perilous time. The Thousand Oaks (Calif.) company had risen to prominence on two pioneering drugs, one to treat anemia and the other to prevent infections in patients undergoing chemotherapy. But it didn’t have much in the pipeline to guarantee growth going forward. So Perlmutter re-thought research, seeking new ways to streamline the process and to look for good partners outside Amgen’s walls. There are early signs that it may be working: Amgen could file for FDA approval for a new osteoporosis drug in early 2009, and late-stage trial results suggest it could be a blockbuster. The company’s stock has risen 28% this year to $60 a share, even as the broader pharmaceutical indices have been falling.

Got a question for Roger? Ask it!

Reader Comments

Jerry Machado

November 3, 2008 2:38 PM

Hi Dr. Perlmutter,

I've been worried about the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. What can you tell me about the research taking place to defeat these resistant bugs.

It seems like an opportunity to make money while doing good.




November 3, 2008 2:41 PM

Dr. Perlmutter, I read in the LA Times ( about how the Supreme Court is split over whether to shield drug makers from being sued if they fail to warn patients and doctors of all the risks of a prescription drug -- and if a federal agency such as the FDA regulates the product. What's your opinion?

Karen Alt

November 3, 2008 6:59 PM

I am very interested in the side effects from Zetia; especially if it causes weight gain, along with the drug Crestor.

Thank you.


November 3, 2008 8:09 PM

How does collaboration work in your field, with NDA's, patents and contractual firewalls and red tapes. How do you work with vendors or partners in a positive manner to be able to achieve benificial outcomes for all stake holders without projects falling into caotic disruption. We have found that in the past lawyers can really quickly kill collaboration and hence cross company innovation.

Helen Walters

November 3, 2008 8:13 PM

Thanks so much for the great questions. Don't forget to include your name as you'd like us to credit you -- and your location. Thanks again -- keep the questions coming, and I'll post the video here once it's ready.


November 4, 2008 6:42 AM

Dr Roger,
How far this new Osteoporosis drug molecule is safe as blockbuster in relation to current dronate molecules?


November 4, 2008 10:42 AM


We've seen the rough lessons in the financial markets of allowing too much consolidation, to the point that an oligopoly is established, where inidividual players can move the marketplace.

Do you feel we should be applying this lesson learned to the pharma/biotech industry and making it more difficult for large consolidations to occur (such as Roche's recent move to absorb Genentech). Do you worry that this will inhibit innovative research and expose the industry to too much concentrated risk in the hands of only a few companies?


Bruce Ganem

November 4, 2008 10:46 AM

Dr. Perlmutter:

The situation in Big Pharma today reminds me of the competitive threat posed by Japanese manufacturers to the US semiconductor industry during the 1980s. Back then, the industry formed a very effective consortium (Sematech) to share information and develop new products.

Do you think Amgen and other big pharma companies would ever be able to work together in a similar fashion by sharing information about failures in late-stage clinical trials as well as new strategies in early stage drug development?


November 4, 2008 7:21 PM

I do not have a Comment but i have a question!!!!
What is the behind reasons of the financial crisis.????


November 4, 2008 9:45 PM


Thankyou very much for reading my little sentences. I was curious about whether the R and D cells in Pharma companies consider the chances of a collaboration with Alternative forms of medicine like Alopathy or Homeopathy? Since the breakthrough for the impasee was once biochemistry, why not these fields that I mentioned? I will be glad to hear your comments.


November 5, 2008 6:54 PM

1) What impact with the Obama administration have on Amgen's business?

2) Under the Obama administration, what is the probability of an FOB pathway being created in the U.S. and what is Amgen's stance on FOB's?

Helen Walters

November 7, 2008 9:17 AM

Thanks, all, for your great questions. We picked five and Arlene put them to Roger yesterday. We're now editing and will post the video on 1112 (I'll post the link when it's available.) Apologies in advance if we did not get to your question, but I think (hope!) you'll find Perlmutter's comments compelling all the same. Thanks again, Helen

Helen Walters

November 18, 2008 12:18 PM


February 22, 2009 9:58 AM

Will you pepole help me to solve the problem related to Microbiology.
My question is that : What is the mean of Microbila load record? is it means Area monitaring? which points add in preparation of SOP.
Second : how to perform clean area validation. Is their is band in use fumigation procedure

kathryn L. ignasiak

August 18, 2009 1:11 PM

I was watching your show today about childrens brain health and the importance of breast feeding your babies. I am extremely disappointed in your one sided review of this issue, beause there are many many woman all over the world who are unable to breast feed their children, and are allergic to fish and fish products. You should be Tom Cruise's best buddy, why don't you jump up and down on a sofa, for your insults to women with dibilaties who would have loved to have breat feed their babies but were unable to due to medical reasons like mine. I have seizures so the entire time I am pregnant I do not take my seizure medication but must immediately reactivate it as soon as my children were born. My three children lacked for nothing, never were they told they had ADD or HADD. I think you need to send an apology letter immediately to the disablily organizations apologizing for insulting us. My youngest chld as a matter of fact is so intelligent she in attending medical school while she is still in high school. This had nothing to do with her suckling my breasts. I believe that children are born preordaned to be who they are good bad or unmentionable, but to put the blame on a mother who was medically unable to breast feed is your lowest shot at people with disabilities. I would love to come on your show to discuss this matter, but I bet you're to chicken to even fatham the idea of a mother going against your book, because you believe you hare the God of brains. How dare you? So please take me up on the offer.


October 8, 2009 11:08 AM

Interesting post very important but I need to know about green

Kathryn Ignasiak

December 27, 2009 10:03 PM

I can see you posted my comment but have yet to invite me to discuss it with you in person or in front of a live audience, how come are you afraid of the non-breast feeding mothers of the world uniting against your efforts to bellittle us or to make breast feeding seem like it's the only way you can feed your baby? Quick my breasts are waiting for your response?

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