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Investing in Diabetes

Right now I’m disinvesting. I sold my AMLN shares today.

AMLN is the NASDAQ stock symbol for Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. in San Diego, which developed Byetta.

I take Byetta to control my blood glucose level and bring down my weight. It’s doing both extremely well.

So why should I sell my shares of the company that makes it? Certainly not because I have lost faith in Byetta or in Amylin.

Instead, it is because I am tired of having to disclose that I own Amylin shares every time I write an article about Byetta. Full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest are essential to unbiased journalism.

By no means did I ever pitch Byetta in hopes that my articles would make the stock go up so I would get rich. But when a friend wrote that I had to be careful not to sound like a shill for Amylin, I knew I had to sell.

Along the way it was unpleasant for me to have the editor of a magazine that I write for take my full disclosure of Amylin ownership out of my article and instead make it an “editor’s note” at the end. I thought that this made it sound like I was holding back and that the editor was the pure one. And like editors usually do, I wasn’t even able to see the change until I got my printed copy of that issue of the magazine.

I never would have gotten rich from my Amylin investment. I bought 100 shares about seven months ago at $39.21 and sold them at $44.23, taking a profit of about $500.

The best time to buy Amylin was before the Food and Drug Administration approved Byetta for controlling diabetes in April 2005. Much earlier, in October 1998 its stock price sank to its lowest level, 28 cents per share. Had I invested then what I eventually invested seven months ago, I would be worth more than $600,000 today.

Silly me. In February 1998 I already knew about the drug that became Byetta.

At least I took a profit from my Amylin stock. Right now I have a paper loss of about $600 from my investment in DexCom Inc. (DXCM) in San Diego. I wrote here about its short-term continuous sensor, making sure, of course, in my article to divulge my stock ownership.

About the same time that I invested in Amylin and DexCom I also bought stock in MannKind Corp (MNKD), in Valencia, California, another company in the diabetes marketplace. It is developing a very fast acting inhaled insulin. I haven’t written about MannKind before, and its stock is treading water.

Except for some shares of an index fund that I own, this is the extent of my investment in the stock market. I would like to invest more in the diabetes marketplace, because this is the area that I know best. Like all of us, I know too that diabetes is a growth market.

But there are few “pure plays” in diabetes. Huge pharmaceutical and medical products companies providing products for all sorts of conditions sell us our drugs and our blood glucose meters.

There are diabetes pure plays besides Amylin, DexCom, and MannKind. Some of them excite me, like AgaMatrix Inc. in Salem, New Hampshire, which makes the Wave 1 meter; Whole Control LLC in Arvada, Colorado, which makes Whole Control Golden Barley Cereal; and Insulet Corp. in Bedford, Massachusetts, which makes the innovative OmniPod insulin pump. But they are all privately held.

We deserve to make money by investing in companies that make profits from our diabetes. If you hear about any likely prospects, please comment. And if I find any, you can be sure that I will make full disclosure in an article here.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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      Dear Amaya,

      Thanks for writing. I don’t know Christian or where he writes. Can you tell me where?