Stop being so cynical.
Do you know how many times I have had to say that to people in the last couple of decades? DECADES!
I think that one of the biggest impediments to making money in stock or index funds is cynicism.
Look, I get how screwed up our political system is, although that already brands me as a partisan because I can hear people saying I wouldn't be saying that if I loved President Trump.
Let's just take that off the table, though. Political cynicism has become a given if not a necessity to a rational life.
No, I am talking about things that matter to earnings -- and earnings aren't very political.
Specifically, I am talking about something that happened earlier this week that was met with intense cynicism: the approval of esketamine, a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) drug, now known as Spravato for use against hardcore depression.
No sooner was it approved than I began to hear the jokes about Special K and how this is a club drug and how ridiculous it is that the FDA approved a drug that has been partnered with ecstasy to have a dynamite party time.
I find this kind of cynical chatter to be palpably horrendous, because as someone who is close to this issue I can tell you that the paucity of drugs to help severely depressed people is tragic. More than forty thousand people will take their lives this year in America -- we will be lucky if it is that low, and there is very little to offer people to try to allow them to blot out the negative thoughts that make it seem rational to commit suicide.
This nasal spray, which will be administered in tightly controlled circumstances, can save lives -- and that is really all that matters. The studies were conclusive that most people will be helped by Spravato, particularly at the point of ideation.
Now we know that this drug is not priced cheaply -- $4720 to $6785 in the first month and then reduced to $2360 to $3540 on a monthly basis -- but it is the first new mental health drug since Prozac was introduced 31 years ago.
I think that some of the cynical chatter stems from a misunderstanding of what mental illness is -- and I really wish there were no such term.
When my wife, Lisa, dislocated her elbow, they had to pull her arm out and then put it back into the joint. They gave her ketamine to deal with the pain.
It's the protocol. No one in the OR thought that Lisa wanted it to party hardy at a Hamptons bash. Now, because of the absurd, opaque way that hospitals work I have no idea how much it cost us.
But no matter. It was a necessity. She screamed from the pain, then she was quiet and then she laughed and asked if she behaved well or did she shriek in pain. Talk about instant effectiveness.
Now, though, JNJ wants it to help more than the elbow, JNJ wants to help another vital organ, the brain.
To me, the brain matters more than the elbow any day of the week. Who kills themselves over a painful elbow injury? But pain in the brain? When is this culture going to accept the concept that a brain illness is every bit as legit as a dislocated elbow? How many people have to kill themselves before we recognize that if there is something else out there, we should make it available?
That's why this approval is so important.
Last night Allergan (AGN) reported a huge failure on a pill that was meant to treat depression in a fast-acting way, as Esketamine does.
It's a reminder of how intractable brain illness is.
I salute JNJ for taking on the system to get this drug approved. The fact that it works is nothing less than a miracle -- and it certainly is a lot more instantaneous than the Prozac dysfunctional family of drugs.
To me, we should stop being so cynical. That's a win. And it will be a blockbuster win for JNJ shareholders, too -- a drug that I think could read a billion dollar status in two years or less, even as The Street thinks it might do $500 million by 2023. The Street thinks of it as a party Band-Aid, like another JNJ product. If you want to go front of the store, I think of it as a lifesaver.