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Pfizer’s pipeline explosion

Ouch. Pfizer is really taking it on the chin these days. The mild rumblings about BP side effects with torcetrapib did not seem to portend this outcome:

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) – In a surprising setback for the world’s largest drugmaker, Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N: ) halted development on Saturday of its top experimental medicine, the cholesterol drug torcetrapib, due to safety concerns.

The company said an independent safety board recommended it end a clinical trial called “Illuminate” because of “an imbalance of mortality and cardiovascular events.”

Pfizer immediately terminated the trial and ended the entire development program for the drug. The product, which raises levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, was expected to be a major growth driver for Pfizer as its other top medicines begin to face generic competition in the next few years.

(by the way, be aware of the confusion/sloppy reporting of the “$800 million” figure supposedly lost on this drug. Originally, that was the projected amount Pfizer planned to spend on the drug to bring it to market – it does NOT necessarily represent what has actually been spent to date. See John Mack’s take here) .

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