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Pfizer Halts Trials On Lung Cancer Drug


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A Costly Goodbye - Pfizer Halts Trials On Lung Cancer Drug; Coley's Shares Plunge - Update [PFE]

6/20/2007 4:22:03 PM Wednesday, Pfizer Inc. (PFE) announced that it has halted the related clinical trials evaluating its investigational compound PF-3512676 in combination with the standard cytotoxic chemotherapy for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer.

PF-3512676, which Pfizer licensed from Coley Pharmaceutical Group, was studied under two Phase 3 clinical trials and two Phase 2 clinical trials.

An independent Data Safety Monitoring Committee, which analyzed the interim data of the Phase 3 clinical trials, found that PF-3512676, in combination with the standard cytotoxic chemotherapy regimen did not produce additional clinical efficacy over the standard cytotoxic chemotherapy regimen alone.

Since the risk-benefit profile did not justify continuation of the trials, the Data Safety Monitoring Committee recommended a halt to the studies with PF-3512676.

Pfizer's near-term pipeline of new drugs is nearly empty though its early stage pipeline is bounteous. Pfizer's top-selling cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor is slated to lose patent protection by 2011. The company's investigational cholesterol drug Torcetrapib, which was expected to replace Lipitor as the company's main revenue driver when Lipitor goes off patent, has been pushed to the biotech drug graveyard because of an unexpected number of deaths and other complications in the trial.

The company's hypertension drug Norvasc has been thrown open for generic competition, after the patent on Norvasc, which was supposed to run till September 25, 2007, including the six months of pediatric exclusivity was invalidated by the U.S. Court of Appeals last month.

In order to slash annual costs by up to $2 billion by the end of 2008, Pfizer has been eliminating thousands of jobs and closing plants. Growing skepticism about the sources of Pfizer's future revenue growth is reflected in its stock price. The company's stock has shed nearly 33% since the beginning of 2004, although it has rebounded in recent times. But it is lagging behind that of its competitor, Merck.

Pfizer intends to advance three key cancer compounds into phase III trials during this year. Sutent, which is currently under phase III investigation in breast cancer, will enter the phase 3 trials for non-small-cell lung, colorectal, and liver cancer. Axitinib, which is also in the phase 3 trial for Thyroid cancer is scheduled to enter a phase III trial for Pancreatic cancer. Pfizer's yet another oncology compound CP-751, 871 is set to be studied in a phase III non-small-cell lung cancer program.

By halting the development of one of its drugs in the pipeline, Pfizer is bound to come under some pressure because additional products are just what will help Pfizer compensate for the revenue loss of Lipitor when it goes off patent.

Following the news, shares of Coley Pharmaceuticals Group Inc., which licensed PF-3512676 to Pfizer, slipped a nerve-shattering 60%. PF-3512676 is Coley's only drug in late-stage trials. Early this year, Coley suspended the development of Actilon, its experimental drug for hepatitis, as results of the mid-stage clinical trials were ineffective. Actilon, which belongs to a new class of investigational medicines known as TLR Therapeutics, was granted Fast Track Status by the FDA in May 2006.

Robert Bratzler, President and CEO of Coley Pharmaceutical Group said, “This news is surprising based on the signs of clinical activity observed with PF-3512676 in Coley's Phase II randomized clinical trial and we are disappointed with this setback in the program."

PFE closed Wednesday's regular trade down $0.49 or 1.87% at $25.72 on a volume of 44.11 million shares.

COLY closed Wednesday's regular trade down $5.10 or 60.54% at $3.40 on a volume of 4.75 million shares. The stock, which has been trading in the range of $8.00 - $13.90 for the past 52 weeks, reached a new low today.

Prosper Reports Financing Of Additional $20 Million - Update []

6/20/2007 4:09:31 PM On Wednesday, Prosper, a leading people-to-people commercial lending marketplace, said it has completed an additional Series C financing of $20 million. The financing was led by DAG Ventures and Meritech Capital Partners with participation by existing investors, added the company. The company has raised a total of $40 million, including the latest financing.

Recently, Prosper reported that during the last three months its membership increased by 50% and funded loans increased by over 60%. Prosper's membership has grown to more than 330 thousand individuals with $70 million in loans, since the company's inception in February 2006.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Prosper, Chris Larsen stated, “We are appreciative of our new and early investors for their support and commitment. This latest round of financing provides us with considerable resources toward maintaining our leadership position and continuing to rapidly grow the Prosper marketplace.”

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