Over the past several years, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has taken bold steps to streamline its operations and improve profitability after a wave of patent expirations. Focusing on the company's emerging oncology segment seemed like a great plan, until the recent failures of a lung cancer candidate with high expectations.
Dacomitinib is an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, one of many tumor fighting drugs more commonly referred to as EGFR inhibitors. This experimental drug was expected to eventually put its non-small cell lung cancer (NCLSC) competitors on the ropes. Unlike Tarceva from Roche (NASDAQOTH: RHHBY) and Iressa from partners AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) and Teva (NYSE: TEVA) , Pfizer's unique therapy is irreversible and acts on multiple receptor types. Let's take a look at just how far this will set back the restructured pharma giant.
Combined, Tarceva and and Iressa racked up about $2 billion worldwide in 2012. Dacomitinib wasn't expected to be a blockbuster on the scale of a drug like Lipitor, which was Pfizer's most successful drug and formerly the top-selling drug in the world. However, dacomitinib's failed trials would sting much less if they occurred during earlier stages of development.
What went wrong
Not long ago, dacomitinib had the competition shaking in their boots. Results from a 188 patient trial released at the end of 2012 showed significantly stronger responses when compared to Tarceva. The problem with the drug wasn't safety or response rates, but...
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