Company news from 01/20/06 News Brief

Despite income and revenue declines when compared with the previous year, Pfizer exceeded Wall Street's financial expectations for 2005, CEO Hank McKinnell said during a conference call with investors and analysts Thursday. “We completed the year with positive news on many fronts including double digit full-year worldwide growth of Lipitor, an exceptional Lyrica launch in the US, priority review status for two potential breakthrough medicines -- Sutent for cancer and Champix for smoking cessation -- (and) favorable decisions in Lipitor patent cases,” McKinnell said. McKinnell said more details on Pfizer’s 2005 performance and strategy would be issued on Feb. 10 in New York during an analyst meeting. Novartis said it has dropped out of the race for Swiss vaccine maker Berna Biotech. Analysts speculate that Novartis’ dismissal of a deal with Berna paves the way for the acquisition of Serono, the world's third-largest biotech company by sales. In a statement in November, Serono said it hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group “to explore various strategic alternatives for the company,” adding that “there can be no assurances that any transaction will be consummated.” Novartis would most likely be interested in Serono’s multiple sclerosis drug Rebif, which had sales of $1 billion in 2004. Serono also sells drugs to treat infertility and is attempting to develop 30 new medicines for cancer, inflammatory diseases and other therapeutic areas.

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