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How Bad News for Xeljanz Could Affect Pfizer's Fortunes

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Feb 11, 2021 at 6:09AM

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The big drugmaker hoped for better news from a safety study of its blockbuster drug.

Pfizer (PFE 0.67%) has enjoyed plenty of good news lately with its successful COVID-19 vaccine. However, the big drugmaker recently announced disappointing results from a post-marketing safety study of autoimmune disease drug Xeljanz. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Feb. 3, 2021, contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss how the bad news for Xeljanz could affect Pfizer's fortunes.

Keith Speights: Now, there was a story from last week that wasn't such good news for Pfizer. They announced results from a post-marketing safety study of their blockbuster autoimmune disease drugs, Xeljanz. What they said was that individuals receiving Xeljanz were more likely to develop the major adverse cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, and more likely to have cancer than those receiving drugs such as Humira and Enbrel. Brian, what do you think are the likely repercussions from Pfizer from this news?

Brian Orelli: I mean, I think it's a real blow, not only Pfizer, back to the whole -- so I think this is a JAK Inhibitor, right?

Speights: Right.

Orelli: Yeah. I think it's a big blow to the entire JAK inhibitor. Probably four or five or six companies that have JAK inhibitors and so I think this going to be a big blow, not just to Pfizer but to very company that has JAK inhibitor. It's quite possible that it's a class effect.

Speights: I'm not sure that this is necessarily going to lead to that doomsday scenario where they have to yank Xeljanz from the market. But I would not be surprised if they had to change the label and have more restrictions and it definitely could impact sales. This is a drug, a blockbuster drug, that's generated a lot of growth for Pfizer in recent years. It's certainly not good news but it's not news that they can't overcome, but certainly not something they had hoped.

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