MannKind hosted a conference call for investors this afternoon in advance of its 4Q15 earnings call later this month (date not yet posted on the company’s website). CEO Mr. Matt Pfeffer reiterated the company’s strong confidence in Afrezza following the termination of the Sanofi partnership. He reviewed the initiatives discussed during MannKind’s JP Morgan presentation last month, including the formation of Diabetes Care Centers (adjuncts to urgent care centers that include training on Afrezza) and an Afrezza Advisory Council and exploration of potential partnerships and international filings. However, he stressed that MannKind cannot make many of these changes, including anything related to promotion, payer negotiations, or regulatory submissions, until after it regains the full rights to Afrezza. Negotiating that transition with Sanofi is currently the company’s top priority, and the target date for an agreement is April 5, 2016. Management also reviewed MannKind’s upcoming pipeline projects beyond Afrezza. Most of the candidates currently in development are not related to diabetes or obesity, apart from oxyntomodulin, for obesity, which is still included in its list of potential future projects. Management faced a slew of questions from investors during Q&A, including both live questions and those submitted prior to the call. Topics of discussion during Q&A included a possible de-listing from the NASDAQ, class-action lawsuits, allegations of short-selling, the possibility of filing for bankruptcy (an “absolute last resort” according to management) and lack of information on the recent partnership with Receptor Life Sciences. Much of the speculation around what “could” happen appeared to be more rumor than fact, but the questions speak to the challenges the company faces as it attempts a turnaround in 2016. That said, we liked that the company was proactive in holding this call so early in earnings season and given the degree to which people with diabetes continue to need alternatives to the traditional injected insulin and associated complexity; nearly half of all patients are not at their glycemic target in the US – we suspect the percentage of those on insulin and on mealtime insulin is even higher.
-- by Emily Regier and Kelly Close