Translating successful phase 2 results into a positive phase 3 trial can require a bit of luck, especially for a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis where the outcomes are somewhat subjective.
Pfizer is in a race with Rigel Pharmaceuticals
The current market is dominated by a trio of multi-billion drugs: Humira from Abbott Labs
Pfizer towering over tiny Rigel and Incyte may not be much of an advantage, since both drugmakers have partnered out their drugs to large pharma. AstraZeneca licensed Rigel's R788 and Eli Lilly
Pfizer is in the lead, but being first isn't nearly as important as being best. We won't know the full scope of the latter until Pfizer releases more phase 3 data -- four studies are expected to be completed in the first half of next year -- and the competitors begin to release their phase 3 data.
Investors can still breathe a sigh of relief that the drug worked in a larger phase 3 trial. The risk of failure isn't completely mitigated, but it's gone down substantially.
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