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Is Pfizer Benefiting From Negligence?

Pfizer announces partnership with Merck to develop a new drug to treat Type 2 Diabetes… the very disease that their blockbuster medication, LIPITOR® is accused of causing.

A number of recent studies have revealed an increased risk for LIPITOR users to develop Type 2 Diabetes.  Lawsuits are mounting against Pfizer, the drug’s creator; alleging negligence because the pharmaceutical behemoth knew of this risk and failed to warn patients.

In the wake of this pending litigation, Pfizer made a surprising announcement last month that it is out-licensing its diabetes drug candidate (ertugliflozin) to its big-pharma rival, Merck.

“We are pleased to join forces with Merck in the battle against type 2 diabetes and the burden that it poses on global health,” said John Young, president and general manager, Pfizer Primary Care. “Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care with the introduction of ertugliflozin, an innovative SGLT2 inhibitor discovered by Pfizer scientists.”

Pfizer may be hedging their risk of potential multi-million dollar Lipitor negligence lawsuits on multiple fronts.  Patients taking Lipitor may be at risk to develop Type 2 Diabetes, thereby seemingly insuring the corporate giant more customers for their new diabetes treatment.  Additionally, Merck is already well-positioned in the oral treatment of diabetes with their own medication, Januvia.  The two companies hope to release ertugliflozin both as a solo drug and in combination with Januvia.

With ertugliflozin entering into Phase III trials later this year, it will be interesting to see how Pfizer addresses this issue in relation to the pending Lipitor class-action suits and the burden many claim Lipitor imposes on their health.


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