Pfizer’s Lyrica Holds Promise

Zacks Investment Research
updated | Zacks.com

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) recently presented positive top-line data on its blockbuster drug, Lyrica. Pfizer said that Lyrica met the primary endpoint in a study that was being conducted in patients with chronic central neuropathic pain following traumatic spinal cord injury.

Patients participating in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, multi-center study (Study A0081107) were randomized to receive Lyrica or placebo. Initial results showed that Lyrica demonstrated positive efficacy in reducing central neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury compared to placebo. Pfizer will analyze the data further.

Pfizer has been working on expanding Lyrica’s label for additional indications. Lyrica has experienced a very strong ramp since its introduction. Total Lyrica sales in 2010 were $3.0 billion. The product is approved in 110 countries and regions for indications like diabetic nerve pain, pain after shingles, fibromyalgia and partial onset seizures in adults with epilepsy who take one or more drugs for seizures. Other players in the fibromyalgia market include Eli Lilly’s (NYSE:LLY) Cymbalta and Forest Labs’ (NYSE:FRX) Savella.

Cymbalta is also approved for other indications like depression, generalized anxiety disorder, diabetic nerve pain, and chronic musculoskeletal pain due to chronic osteoarthritis pain or chronic low back pain.

Besides evaluating Lyrica for chronic central neuropathic pain following traumatic spinal cord injury, Pfizer is evaluating Lyrica’s potential in other indications like peripheral neuropathic pain and epilepsy (monotherapy). Approval for additional indications would boost Lyrica sales.

Neutral on Pfizer

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Pfizer, which carries a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating). While near-term earnings growth will come in the form of cost cutting and share repurchases, longer-term growth will be dependent on the success of drug development. 2011 should be a catalyst-filled year for the company, which is expecting to present phase III data on several candidates.

 
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