Pfizer seeks 2nd chance for cancer drug Mylotarg

Pfizer ($PFE) has potentially found a second life for its controversial blood cancer drug Mylotarg, Bloomberg News reports.

From 2000 to 2010, the drug was used to treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia--aged 60 or older--after their cancer had returned. But the FDA asked Pfizer to stop selling it last year after a post-marketing trial showed the drug wasn't helping patients and some died from related liver complications.

A new study showed that Mylotarg, along with chemotherapy, helped prolong the lives of patients who were just diagnosed with the deadly cancer, compared with chemotherapy alone. (Pfizer released details over the weekend at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Diego.) With the promising data in hand, Pfizer told Bloomberg that it will work with its scientists to evaluate the study results and potentially submit it as part of a new regulatory submission.

Pfizer probably thought it had a steadier drug in hand in 2009 when it acquired Wyeth ($WYE), the drug's original developer and marketer. But lots of drugs that don't work for their original indication end up having second chances with slightly, or even radically different indications.

For Pfizer, a new regulatory submission would represent a remarkable turnaround for the drug, which generated $83 million in 2009, according to Evaluate Pharma data cited by Bloomberg. The new trial data is also likely a welcome return to good news for Pfizer, which in recent months has faced Lipitor going generic, safety concerns in osteoarthritis trials, and disappointing data for potential cancer and Alzheimer's treatments.

- here's the Bloomberg story

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