A September 25, 2008 memo by Martin Mackay, Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) president for Global Research and Development, confirms that Pfizer will not develop any more drugs that target cholesterol as the culprit in causing heart disease. In fact, Pfizer will exit drug development for cardiovascular disease altogether.
Pfizer’s exit from statin development indicates the cholesterol craze has reached the end of its cycle trend. Profits have declined as more statins go off patent, and patients switch to much cheaper generics, or forgo statins altogether in order to take “essential” medications.
This means that high cholesterol as an indicator of heart disease was nothing more than a marketing strategy for big pharma to make a ton of money and should be viewed like any other product trend. Bone health and frailty (osteoporosis) is another trend Pfizer is exiting for the same reasons.
Pfizer’s “higher priority areas” for drug development are Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, inflammation/immunology, oncology, pain, and psychoses (schizophrenia). Medicines for pain and inflammation could be big blockbusters if they have the ability to target the specific area needing treatment rather than affecting the entire body.
At this point in time, pharmaceutical stocks should be viewed like a utility company. In the next few years, the real leaps in health care will not emanate from a drug company’s R&D lab but instead come from the physics department. Think magnetism, light waves, sound waves, and other forces.
*All of Pfizer's patents related to Lipitor expire in 2011.