Should we share Pfizer’s optimism?
Pfizer’s research chief Dr. John LaMattina is optimistic. Bullish, even. Like other big drug companies Pfizer seldom brings to market a meaningful new drug it has discovered and developed itself. With a $7 billion annual R&D budget that’Â’s kind of embarrassing. Big pharma companies have been innovative, but mainly on the commercial side –Â–figuring out ingenious ways to keep generics off the market or beat the taxman, for example.
But Dr. LaMattina insists in an interview in today’Â’s New York Times that things are about to change for the better. Pfizer has a rich early-stage pipeline and a couple of later stage products it discovered itself. The article hints that this boost in output could be a harbinger for the industry as a whole.
Even on its innovative new products Pfizer is mixing in a few marketing tricks. Take torcetrapib, which can raise HDL (aka “Â“good cholesterol”) and possibly prevent heart disease. Pfizer plans to sell the drug only as a combination product with Lipitor, meaning no other statin –Â–including generic simvastatin– Â—could be used alongside it, andcouldn’tit couldn’t be used alone. I don’Â’t have the inside story on this decision, but my speculation is that it’Â’s an attempt to prop up Lipitor during that drug’Â’s last couple of years of patent protection and also a way to punish the companies making generic statins.July 18, 2006