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Phase III trial for Sutent halted

Big Pharm scores a victory against cancer

Earlier this year, Redstate lost Mark Kilmer to cancer.  Our community is not alone–cancer touches almost all of us either directly or through one that we love.  And while treatments have certainly been progressing, the battle seems an uphill one.

Today, however, there is some good news.

“Big Pharm” poster child Pfizer announced it is halting the phase three trial of its new pancreatic drug Sutent.  Generally you might think that’s bad news–that the drug causes some hideous unforeseen side effect.  But no, in this case it is because Sutent is so effective that the FDA has taken the rare step of hurrying the drug to market to help those currently suffering from the disease.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the development of pharmaceuticals, but it seems to me that Stutent is a good example of the sort of creative innovation that can take place in the drug industry (among others, come to think of it) when it is incentivized to bring new products to market.  Maybe these companies should do long, expensive and potentially risky reseach out of the goodness of their hearts–certainly those who have eagerly demonized the big drug companies seem to think this is the preferred model–but the fact is that they are more likely to do it if they are going to make a profit. 

There has been a disturbing lack of new products in the pharmaceutical research and development pipeline recently.  Maybe that’s just serendipity, but maybe it reveals the dampening effect the threat of socialized medicine has had on the industry.  Why make the investment if you can’t market your invention? 

For the moment, however, Pfizer is up 7% in pre-market trading.  Good for them and good for us.

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