Study: Immune system may cause osteoporosis in celiac disease patients
NEW YORK People with celiac disease may be more likely to develop osteoporosis because their own immune system attacks their bone tissue, a recent study suggested.
About 20% of celiac patients produce antibodies that target a key protein called osteoprotegerin that maintains bone health, Scottish researchers reported in Oct. 8’s New England Journal of Medicine. The result is rapid bone destruction and severe osteoporosis, Prof. Stuart Ralston of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues found.
People with celiac disease have a serious intolerance to gluten, found in wheat, rye, spelt, barley and other grains. Gluten can cause an immune system reponse that damages the small intensine in people with the disease. Initially, researchers believed that celiac disease patients may develop osteoporosis because their body lacked the ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D.
“Not only have we discovered a new reason to explain why osteoporosis occurs in celiac disease, but we have also found that it responds very well to drugs that prevent bone tissue removal,” Ralston said.
Pfizer reports 3Q profit rise, revenue drop
NEW YORK Job cuts helped raise Pfizer’s third-quarter 2009 profits by 26% over third-quarter 2008, even though the company had lower overall sales, according to an earnings report released Tuesday.
The world’s largest drug maker reported profits of $2.9 billion, compared with $2.3 billion a year ago, though revenues were $11.6 billion, a 3% decrease from $12 billion in third-quarter 2008. The company said the decrease in revenues and the rise in the value of the dollar kept profits from increasing further.
Pfizer’s $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, while giving the company a leg up in vaccines, biologics and OTC drugs, helped offset profits by requiring it to pay higher interest rates on its bonds, according to the report. The company incurred $22.5 billion in debt through the acquisition, prompting Standard & Poor’s to lower its bond rating from AAA to AA.
Such drugs as the pain drug Lyrica (pregabalin) and the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) had strong sales overseas, but primary-care drugs in general had a mediocre performance thanks to lower sales of Lipitor in the United States. Cancer drugs, likewise, had lackluster performance, despite growth in recent years in the cancer drug market in general.
Though the drug Sutent (sunitinib malate) sold well, the company lost market exclusivity in Europe for the drug Camptosar (irinotecan), and had lower sales overseas due to the strengthening of the dollar, helping to drive sales down from $389 million in third-quarter 2008 to $371 million this quarter.
Meanwhile, sales of specialty drugs — drugs prescribed by specialist doctors rather than primary-care physicians — were $1.6 billion, a 3% increase over third-quarter 2008, thanks largely to strong sales of such drugs as the multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif (interferon beta-1a) and the pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Revatio (sildenafil citrate).
“The completion of the Wyeth acquisition represents a significant milestone in the transformation of Pfizer,” Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler stated. “We are beginning to implement our integration plan in order to quickly maximize the value of our expanded and more diversified global product portfolio in key high-growth areas. With customer-centric businesses, supported by research organizations, Pfizer is now well positioned to deliver greater value to patients and shareholders.”
Pfizer returns to consumer care with Wyeth buy
NEW YORK The approval last week of the Wyeth acquisition by Pfizer marks the return of a consumer-care division to Pfizer, and a considerable one at that.
Pfizer in 2006 sold its then OTC division to Johnson & Johnson as part of an initiative to capitalize on its pharmaceutical pipeline. Then the recession hit, and the need for a significant cash-flow generator like an OTC division again became paramount to pharma companies. So in addition to the pharmaceutical symmetries inherent in the deal — biologics and vaccines — the return of an OTC division to Pfizer is consequential.
There will be a degree of continuity as Wyeth Consumer Healthare is exchanged for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare on all OTC packaging — former president of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, Cavan Redmond, remains in charge of the division as group president, diversified businesses at the new Pfizer. In addition to OTCs, animal health and nutrition, Cavan also picks up responsibility for capsule manufacturer Capsugel.
Pfizer’s new OTC division is strongest in internal analgesics behind its venerable Advil brand — comprising 16.8% dollar share of the category, the pain reliever generated $340.8 million in sales across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 4, according to Information Resources Inc., down slightly by 2.5% in an economy that continues to skew toward private label.
Other areas of significance include dietary supplements, with $189.7 million in Centrum sales (down 1%) and $53.4 million in Caltrate sales (up 3.8%); cold and allergy, where in addition to Advil Cold, Wyeth fields Alavert and Robitussin. Indeed, almost $1-out-of-every-$3 spent on cough syrups is used to buy a Robitussin product, which generated $91.5 million for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 4, up 27.2%. Across the digestives aisle is Preparation H, with more than $75 million in annual sales, and Fibercon, which generates more than $10 million annually. And in lip care, the new Pfizer division will field Chapstick, a brand with more than $80 million in annual sales.