Pfizer abandons heart drug pipeline

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Pfizer has decided to abandon its efforts to develop medicines for heart disease, as part of a broad research reshuffling.

The New York City-based Pfizer said it will be leaving the sector that includes Lipitor, along with other medicines that fueled the company's dominance of the pharmaceutical industry for more than a decade, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“We still see the programs that we're stopping as having value,” Martin Mackay, Pfizer’s head of research and development, told the WSJ. “They're just not as valuable as other programs, like Alzheimer's or oncology." The company said it will seek partners to develop its developmental compounds.

Lipitor, the world’s top selling drug with sales of $12.7 billion in 2007, and Norvasc, a blood pressure medicine with $4.7 billion in sales in 2006 before losing patent protection last year, made Pfizer superior in cardiovascular drugs in the mid-1990s, WSJ reported.

The company previously had another cholesterol-lowering drug, torcetrapib, which could have provided a new source of growth, but that drug failed in a major study in late 2006.

Pfizer said it will continue to develop heart medicines in late-stage testing, including an anti-clotting drug being co-developing with the New York City-based Bristol-Myers Squibb.