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Pfizer Dropping Heart Drugs; Focus on Cancer

The drug maker plans to abandon efforts to develop medicines for heart disease as part of a broad research reshuffling.

Updated from 3:30 a.m. EDT.


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on Monday said it met its near-term goal for beefing up its late-stage pipeline and will focus on its eight cancer programs and other "high-potential" areas.

The company, which is targeting between 15 and 20 regulatory submissions between 2010 and 2012, said the majority of advances have been in oncology, pain, inflammation, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

The Wall Street Journal

reported late Monday that Pfizer would not develop newer products for heart disease, obesity and bone health. Such a move is a shift for Pfizer whose highest earner has been cholesterol drug Lipitor, a product that faces patent expiration in 2011.

Increased competition, patent expiration and thinning pipelines have hung over Pfizer and its peers. Analysts have predicted the sector will hit a "cliff" around 2011. A round or more of acquisitions, restructurings, and refocusing efforts hit the sector over the past year and a half as these companies reposition themselves for the future.

In March, Pfizer said it had hoped to have 28 new molecular entities or new indications and 24 in phase III development by December 2009.

Pfizer said Tuesday that it now has 25 programs in late-stage development, up from 16 in the last six months. Thirteen programs have been discontinued.

"We are investing in the most promising disease areas, where there is strong unmet medical need, favorable markets and an opportunity to advance medical science," said Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer Global Research & Development.

Pfizer's shares rose 20 0.9%, to $17.80 in recent trading.