Tags: US | Pfizer | Research

Pfizer Pares, Refocuses Research After Wyeth Buy

Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010 03:37 PM

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc., which just bought rival Wyeth in October, said Wednesday it will scrap testing of roughly 100 experimental drugs from their combined research operations to focus more resources on its priority areas.

New York-based Pfizer said it will continue with about 500 research projects. About 70 percent of those — and 75 percent of its late-stage research — fall within what it calls "Invest to Win" areas because of the great need for better treatments.

They are Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and metabolic disorders, pain, cancer, inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and mental illnesses including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

As part of the integration, Pfizer will reduce the square footage of its R&D facilities by one-third, eliminating six research sites and an unspecified number of workers.

Of the 500 drugs, 133 are in human testing, including 34 in final-stage studies, and six await approval in various countries — up from 100 in human testing last March. Some are vaccines or biologic drugs produced in living cells, both new priority areas for Pfizer, along with diabetes and mental illness.

"I think more important than the numbers are really the quality and breadth of the projects," said Martin Mackay, who heads research on pills and other traditional drugs.

"I think the hottest years for us will be 2011, 2012," when new products could start coming on the market, he said.

This year, a new version of the blockbuster children's vaccine Prevnar is expected to be approved in the U.S. It protects against double the number of bacteria strains that cause ear infections and meningitis as the original version. The company plans to submit data late in the year seeking approval to market the vaccine for adults.

Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker by revenue, expects to report key study data sometime this year on experimental medicines including Alzheimer's disease drug Dimebon and the biologic drug tanezumab for arthritis and other chronic pain, and later seek approval of them.

"We have a whole range of infectious disease (drugs) and preventive vaccines" in testing, including one to prevent hospital patients from getting dangerous staph infections, said Mikael Dolsten, head of biologic research.

Pfizer now has six vaccines and 27 biologic drugs in development, up from had only one vaccine and 16 biologic drugs before it bought Wyeth for $68 billion, partly for its expertise in vaccines and biotech drugs. Pfizer now is aiming to become a top-tier maker of those medicines by 2015.

When the two companies combined their research programs, they had a 3 to 1 ratio of traditional, chemically synthesized pills versus vaccines and biologic drugs in early, laboratory testing. After the early research portfolio was pruned and refocused, the ratio swung to 1.3 to 1, Mackay noted.

Biologic drugs generally are more powerful and pricey than pills, and so far have not faced generic competition in the U.S.

The 500-drug research portfolio includes 30 drugs in testing for cancer, 10 for Alzheimer's disease, eight for pain, 11 for inflammation, six for diabetes and metabolic disorders, and eight for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses. Those are all in human testing, and many others are being studied in animals or in test tubes.

Pfizer, which makes the world's top-selling drug, cholesterol fighter Lipitor, continues to do some research in allergy and respiratory disorders, eye diseases, gastrointestinal conditions and genitourinary problems such as endometriosis.

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Drugmaker Pfizer Inc., which just bought rival Wyeth in October, said Wednesday it will scrap testing of roughly 100 experimental drugs from their combined research operations to focus more resources on its priority areas.New York-based Pfizer said it will continue with...
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2010-37-27
Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010 03:37 PM
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