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Pfizer's Rheumatoid Arthritis Pill Endorsed by FDA Panel


The backing of government advisers is an important step toward approval for the big drug maker's experimental treatment.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Pfizer's (PFE) experimental pill for rheumatoid arthritis won the backing of a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday. The advisers voted 8-2, saying the company's pill tofacitinib was effective and safe enough to be approved. The oral drug would be prescribed to patients who now are treated by injected medicines such as Abbott Laboratories' (ABT) Humira.

There was plenty of discussion about the medicine's safety, and some panelists had reservations about high doses of Pfizer's drug. Nonetheless, the endorsement was an important step for Pfizer, which now awaits word from the FDA on its decision. The agency is expected to decide on tofacitinib's approval in August. Pfizer asked the FDA to approve its pill for patients who can't be treated by one of the injected drugs. In addition to Humira, rheumatoid arthritis also is treated by Amgen's (AMGN) Enbrel and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Remicade.

Pfizer shares closed up more than 1% to $22.45 Wednesday.

(See Pfizer Plan to Buy Back Stock, Raise Dividends Overshadows Growth Strategy [UPDATE].)

Twitter: @brettchase

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