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Exuberance over Exubera comes to crashing halt

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No Monday morning quarterbacking here. Just the usual reminder to journalists and consumers that – while in the opera, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings – in health care and medical research, exuberance over new ideas such as new drugs maybe ought to be restrained until long-term evidence is in.

Pfizer’s announcement this week that it would shelve the insulin-inhaler drug Exubera and take a $2.8 billion pretax hit on the product is a real world reminder. The company faced a far weaker sales market than anticipated, perhaps much of it due to doctors’ safety concerns about the drug.

Back when the drug was approved in January 2006, on our website, we reviewed an AP story about the drug’s approval and noted about that story:

“Overall, there is little quantitative information on the efficacy of the new form of insulin compared with the existing method of insulin delivery. While investors may be interested that this could be a “$1 billion a year seller for Pfizer”, diabetics who are considering inhaled insulin would appreciate quantitative information on the risks and benefits of Exubera.”

I hope journalists are paying attention.

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