Pfizer is about cancer drugs for growth

Twenty years ago,


PFE -0.76%

did not sell any drugs that treated cancer. Now it sells 17, including four approved in the US at the end of last year, more than any other pharmaceutical company.

The new series is expected to generate $ 8.3 billion in sales this year, according to EvaluatePharma. For the first time in 2019, Pfizer expects oncology products to outsell the heart and other primary care drugs the company had long known for.

Pfizer throws in with other major drug companies trying to extend their footprint in cancer or get one of course, so many startups are looking for new therapies as well. Run the attraction: New insight into the biology of the disease that has paved the way for discovery of treatments, combined with great commercial potential if these therapies come to market.

Build a pipeline

Pfizer committed to growing his oncological portfolio, but remains behind other drugs.

Top 10 Oncology Companies

It is a significant transformation for Pfizer, whose sales of pills such as Lipitor for high cholesterol and other drugs for common ailments, stepped up to one of the world's largest drug makers. Now the company is seeking a new growth area by treating cancer.

"At Pfizer, oncology is one of the main components of the organization – from a near-reflection," said Andy Schmeltz, who runs the business. 19659010] Drug-based marketers like the category because it promotes treatments for cancer educators and hospitals, require a smaller sales force than was needed to sell cholesterol and hypertension drugs to the much larger cadre of primary health services.

Sales of cancer drugs are expected to reach $ 138 billion worldwide this year and grow 11% a year, according to EvaluatePharma. "One year's treatment usually shows more than $ 100,000." "The unadorned need and the biological advances are still so significant that there is a lot of space for many people to succeed," said Emma Walmsley, general manager of GlaxoSmithKline PLC. in an interview. Glaxo tries to get back to the sale of cancer and drugs after joining the market in 2014.

Growing sales

As sales of cancer drugs increase, Pfizer's share of the oncology market is also growing.

Pfizer make-up of oncological market

Estimated oncological market

Estimated oncological market

Estimated oncological market

Estimated oncological market

Estimated oncological market

Pfizer makeup of oncological market [196590019] Pfizer makeup of oncological market

Pfizer makeup of oncological market

Estimated oncology market

] Pfizer makeup of oncology market

This month,

Bristol-Myers Squibb

said it would buy


In a $ 74 billion deal, two leading cancer drug dealers unite

Eli Lilly

& Co said it would pay $ 8 billion for

Loxo Oncology

and its drug-attacking tumors with a specific genetic change.

Nevertheless, as more drugs come to market, their manufacturers will probably squeeze against each other for patients who eat in each other's sales. Returns can be further stressed when the drugs target narrower slices of patients.

And high price risk triggers cost control work from health plans, especially if several of the drugs are used in combination with other expensive medicines.

"One of the major problems society and healthcare will face in the future is how to finance combination therapy in oncology. It is a major issue without a simple answer," said Christophe Weber, CEO of

Takeda Pharmaceutical

, in an interview.

New York-based Pfizer sold billions of dollars in Lipitor high cholesterol pills, Norvasc for hypertension and Viagra for male impotence when leaders began building a dedicated cancer drug unit in 2008 as part of a search for new revenue to compensate for threatening patent expiry.

The new strategy, the company's officials say, was to hire leading researchers such as Vanderbilt University's medical centers Dr. Mace Rothenberg, now Pfizer's chief executive, to build the company's cancer functions. Pfizer has also collaborated with prominent academia experts and worked to accelerate drug development.

Pfizer also used agreements to procure promising substances that could plug into the pipeline or add approved products to the company's portfolio. Today, the company is targeted at three of the largest segments of oncology patients, those with breast, prostate and lung cancer.

In 2006, the company received US approval to sell a cancer medicine, called Sutent, for the first time since 1970.

The approval of lung cancer drug Xalkori 2011 stemmed from Pfizer's efforts to join leading forces experts outside the firm. Massachusetts General Hospital researchers helped the firm find patients with a particular gene mutation that was thought to be a good target for the drug.

  Pfizer's best-selling oncology drug, Ibrance, treats breast cancer and called up nearly $ 3 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2018. For Pfizer researchers, work at a research facility in Groton, Conn.

Pfizer's best-selling oncology drug, Ibrance, treats breast cancer and called nearly $ 3 billion in sales in the first nine months of 2018. Pfizer researchers work at a research facility in Groton, Conn.


Monica Jorge for the Wall Street Journal

The ability to zero in on right patients as fast was not commonplace at that time, and it enabled investigators to avoid the normal careful way to find appropriate trial subjects.

"You can imagine how hard and slow a process would have been," said Alice Shaw, a Massachusetts general cancer leader who worked with Pfizer on Xalkori's development.

Xalkori approval gave Pfizer an attempt to study patients whose tumors became resistant to the drug, according to company officials and Dr. Shaw. For these patients, the company, which still works with the hospital, developed a new lung cancer treatment called Lorbrena.

The new drug was approved on an accelerated schedule in November, based on early stage results, a goal for the company as it attempts to increase drug development, according to Chris Boshoff. Dr. Boshoff joined Pfizer from the UCL Cancer Institute in 2013 and is now monitoring the company's late-stage cancer development.

Five of the last seven Pfizer cancer drugs were approved at an accelerated pace, without a late stage trial, including the Daurismo for acute myeloid leukemia in November.

Pfizer's best-selling oncological drug, called Ibrance, treats breast cancer and called up nearly $ 3 billion in sales in the first nine months of 2018. The company's 17 cancer drugs include three less expensive copies of biotechnology called biosimilars

Despite For its success in developing cancer drugs, Pfizer has struggled with an important class of treatments called immunotherapies that release the patient's own immune system on tumors.

Pfizer's main immunotherapy, Bavencio, developed with


KGaA and approved last year to treat two different relatively rare cancers, failed in four late stage studies for other tumors. The company says it plans to exploit the class by uniting its substances with those of other companies.

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