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Arthritis Pill From Pfizer Wins Support Of U.S. Panel

A federal advisory panel recommended approval on Wednesday of a rheumatoid arthritis pill that could offer patients an alternative to the injectable medicines already on the market, but several members expressed concern about safety and urged the Food and Drug Administration to require rigorous follow-up studies.

The arthritis advisory committee voted 8 to 2 that the drug, known as tofacitinib, offered enough benefits to overcome potential safety risks, including higher rates of lymphoma and other cancers and serious infections. The agency, which is scheduled to decide on approval by August, usually — but not always — follows the advice of advisory committees.

Pfizer, which is developing tofacitinib, has hailed the drug as one of its most promising prospects as the company works to regain sales after its blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor, lost its patent protection last year.

If the drug is approved, it could prove to be a potent competitor to Humira, a drug made by Abbott that brought in nearly $2 billion in sales during the first quarter of this year.

During Pfizer’s presentation to the panel, company officials said the drug’s safety risks were comparable to those of rheumatoid arthritis drugs already on the market. But an F.D.A. reviewer said his analysis showed that cancer rates in the study seemed to increase in higher doses of the drug and over time. It was these safety concerns that led two of the committee members to vote against approval. “It was unexpected and is of major concern,” said the reviewer, Dr. Nikolay P. Nikolov. Pfizer is asking the agency to approve the drug in both a 5-milligram and 10-milligram dose.  Read More

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Posted on May 9, 2012, in #breaking news, #technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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