Pfizer aborts investigational compounds, reprioritizes

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Pfizer terminated phase 3 development on two investigational compounds today, after halting trials on axitinib, a phase 3 pancreatic cancer treatment, in January.

After a portfolio review of the company's primary care business unit, it was decided that esreboxetine, a fibromyalgia treatment, and PD 332,334, for generalized anxiety disorder, were unlikely to “provide meaningful benefit to patients beyond the current standard of care,” according to a company statement. “Neither compound was terminated due to safety reasons,” the statement said.

Pfizer is actively looking at R&D to determine where best to allocate resources, and is shifting resources to areas where potential rewards are higher, said Barbara Ryan, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. “They don't live in a world of unlimited resources,” said Ryan of Pfizer.

The decision to abandon development on these three products is an example of “industry responding appropriately to [regulatory] changes,” said Ryan. “Unless you have a compound in development that's dramatically better than other products in the market, it's going to be an uphill battle for approval – that's the new reality.”

Pedro Lichtinger, president and general manager of Pfizer's primary care unit, said in a statement that the primary care unit will continue to focus on the development of investigational compounds, in areas such as Alzheimer's disease and thrombosis, for example. The unit will also continue to advance tanezumab “into areas of pain management beyond osteoarthritis,” said Lichtinger in the statement.

Pfizer announced in January that it will acquire Wyeth, a company with several Alzheimer's drugs in the pipeline. Elan/Wyeth's bapineuzumab – expected to launch by 2012 – could make a big splash with neurologists and primary care physicians, according to a recent Decision Resources study.

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