Pfizer Drops Two Late-Stage Candidates, Citing Little Market Potential

Pfizer has decided to drop two late-stage drug candidates because, according to this AP story, it sees no real market potential for them. That is, it sees no blockbuster potential. And, as the article implies, this is in direct response to the Wyeth purchase and the fact that the company is flush with new compounds to consider and prioritize.

The unfortunate part of this is that the drugs were for important therapeutic areas--fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder. Fibro is a tough call. You could argue that there will never be blockbuster potential for the fibromyalgia market. The disease/condition affects a good part of the population, especially female, but is still not well understood and its recommended therapies begin with diet and exercise and then move into drugs. There is no consensus, however, as to what fibromyalgia is much less how best to treat it and maintain efficacy. With Pfizer's Lyrica, Lilly's Cymbalta, and other approved products coming on line in the fibro market, it seems that Pfizer did not see a reason to pursue another which did not have clear benefits over these other reputable medications.

GAD, too, is an important therapeutic area, but is related to depression, fibro, and other conditions and thus the market is already being filled with Cymbalta and other products. Nevertheless, a therapy that might not work for one person might just work for another, so there is definitely room for more players in the fibro and GAD markets, and a modest patient need. There just aren't any blockbuster dollars there. Here's hoping that some other companies can pick up where Pfizer left off and take the years of research that went into these candidates and develop them further.