Company news: Pfizer

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Pfizer updated its drug pipeline last night after the market close, reporting several late-stage discontinuations, the most high-profile of which was Sutent for prostate cancer. Sutent is already approved for kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumor, recording $257 million in US sales last year, according to IMS Health. A Phase III trial designed to secure an approval in advanced prostate cancer was stopped because patients showed little improvement, following earlier setbacks in breast/lung cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma. The company also terminated figitumumab, an experimental targeted cancer drug, in non-small cell lung cancer, although the monoclonal antibody is in Phase II for other indications. Meanwhile, only two Phase III agents reported progress—tasocitinib in psoriasis and Sutent in the adjuvant therapy of renal cell cancer. According to Tony Butler of Barclays Capital, the company's Phase III/Registration portfolio now consists of 26 candidates, of which 14 are novel, including pain agent tanezumab and Alzheimer's candidate Dimebon (Butler says there's little hope of either of those two compounds progressing). As the Phase III pipeline “loses steam,” Butler wrote in an investor note, “we believe [blood thinner] apixaban and [rheumatoid arthritis treatment] tasocitinib may be the only two remaining late-stage candidates to hold billion-plus peak sale potential.” The analyst expects a filing for apixaban in the first half of 2011. Pfizer's only late-stage vaccine is a Phase III project seeking an adult indication for Prevnar 13.

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