Eye-popping…

December 9, 2005

Over the past year, investors in QLT Inc. (QLTI), a Canadian drug company, have watched their investment drop sharply. And very early yesterday — at 1 a.m. eastern when even BlackBerry addicts are sleeping — the company announced that intense competition for its lead product, an anti-blindness product called Visudyne, from Genentech (DNA) was prompting it to cut nearly half of its staff and cut back sharply on various R&D to “ensure greater financial discipline and cost control”. At the same time, QLT announced that Dr. Mohammad Azab, who had been the company’s chief medical officer, was leaving the company as of Jan. 1, but would remain as a consultant.

Left out of the release, however, was the terms of Azab’s consultancy, which will pay him over $45K a month (Canadian) through June 2007 and a $150K (Canadian) bonus after a year. Maybe we’re missing something here, but that doesn’t exactly look like “financial discipline and cost control” to us.

One final note about QLTI: earlier today Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock. Nice call, guys! No need to downgrade it when it was trading at $17. Much better to do it when the stock is trading around $6.

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