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Published on 25 June 2010

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Pfizer ends osteoarthritis drug trial


A potential osteoarthritis drug treatment being developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has come up short in advanced drug testing, sparking concerns about productivity problems at the world’s biggest drugmaker.

Safety problems were identified with tanezumab on Wednesday and there was a fall in the value of Pfizer shares the next day. The news came in the same week that cancer drug Mylotarg was withdrawn from the US market by Pfizer.

Analyst Les Funtleyder, of Miller Tabak, said: “This is the second negative for (Pfizer) this week. We continue to have reservations about (the company’s) R&D capabilities and this announcement only confirms those.”

Cancer treatment Mylotarg was withdrawn from sale on Monday 10 years after winning accelerated US approval after a study found patients also getting chemotherapy had an increased chance of dying if they took the drug. A much- anticipated Alzheimer’s medicine was also abandoned in March.

Global testing of tanezumab on patients with cartilage-wasting condition osteoarthritis was called to a halt after “a small number of reports” that some people who had received injections had experienced a worsening of symptoms which led to joint replacement becoming necessary.

Three collaborations between Pfizer and smaller firms for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis were shelved last week after results were not as good as expected.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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