In this clip from "The Pharma & Biotech Show" on Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 2, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli explain why the news of a discontinued drug from the pharmaceutical giant hasn't shaken investors.
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Keith Speights: Pfizer (PFE 0.89%) announced on Monday of this week that it's discontinuing the clinical development of vupanorsen. Pfizer licensed this drug from Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS -0.12%) back in November 2019. Interestingly here, vupanorsen actually worked. It met the primary endpoint in the Phase III study in reducing non-HDL cholesterol. The problem was, it didn't work enough to support continuing clinical development. This is not good news for Pfizer. It wasn't all that long ago that Pfizer was publicly stating that it looked for vupanorsen to generate peak annual sales of at least $3 billion so Pfizer was counting on this drug being a good, solid success. It was a key component in Pfizer's strategy to add $15 billion in incremental annual revenue over the next few years. But those hopes have really just now evaporated. Investors didn't seem overly concerned though. Pfizer stock fell just a little bit after this news, but not much. Ionis actually fell more but rebounded. I don't think investors are too terribly worried about either of these companies. It is probably just because they realize that both Pfizer and Ionis have plenty of other promising pipeline candidates. Of course, both companies also have drugs on the market as well. Pfizer, in particular, is bolstering its pipeline through business development deals that acquired Trillium Therapeutics (TRIL) last year, plans to acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA). I think while this was certainly a disappointment, it just wasn't a big enough disappointment to rattle investors very much.
Brian Orelli: Yeah, it didn't and on the Ionis side, I think that maybe investors were somewhat expecting it because the shares hardly moved at all. At one point, they were almost back to even. Of course, the day it happened there was a big biotech rally. So it's hard to tell exactly how much of it is news and how much of it was just biotech generally rallying. But, they seem to be shrugging it off pretty easily.
Speights: I will say this. If it were not for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and its COVID pill that's been authorized, I think this would have had a bigger impact on the company for sure. But investors realize that this drug really was, even though Pfizer was hoping it will be a success, it's a drop in the bucket compared to some of the other things Pfizer has going on.