Is Pfizer's pipeline a pipedream?


Pfizer is making headlines this week for improving its pipeline, but is it really? While it announced it is ditching the heart disease medication research in favor of working towards advancements in other key clinical areas, some doubt the promise of the pipeline. The company is also backing out of bone health and anemia research, along with several other research areas.

Recently, Pfizer had to withdraw an FDA filing for the antibiotic dalbavancin when it failed to demonstrate sufficient evidence for the efficacy of the drug, although it is taking the antibiotic back into clinical trial. However, the company says it has increased its late-stage pipeline from 16 to 25 projects in the last six months and that it will continue to make advancements with medications aimed at treating cancer, diabetes, immunology, inflammation, pain, schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease. Pfizer shares rose 4.5 percent following the announcements.

The company announced its decision to back out of cardiac and other markets at nearly the same time it announced the improved pipeline, but some in the investment world wonder if shareholders are getting enough R&D bang for their Pfizer bucks--especially since some of the medications in Phase III trials are old drugs looking for a new raison d'être.

As an aside, all this change leaves us wondering if Carl Icahn will announce today that Pfizer is Imclone's secret bidder. 

- see Pfizer's release
- find the Wall Street Journal blog entry