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Pfizer rises; management defends Celebrex


By Val Brickates Kennedy, MarketWatch
Last Update: 6:02 PM ET Feb. 2, 2005  

BOSTON (MarketWatch)-Shares of Pfizer Inc. moved higher Wednesday after senior management defended the company's handling of clinical data for its drug Celebrex.

Shares of Pfizer closed up 0.9 percent at $24.07 on Wednesday.

Pfizer released a statement Tuesday refuting claims by consumer watchdog group Public Citizen that the company delayed reporting negative data about Celebrex to the Food and Drug Administration. The data, compiled in 1999, purportedly showed that Celebrex could cause cardiac problems in certain users.

Pfizer said Public Citizen had taken the data out of context and had improperly analyzed it. Pfizer said it reported the data in a timely manner, first at a scientific meeting in 2000 and to the FDA in 2001.

Celebrex was approved by the FDA in December 1998.

In addition to the statement, Pfizer Chief Executive Henry McKinnell told Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday that the company has no plans to remove Celebrex from the market. McKinnell made the remarks while on a business trip in Thailand.

Celebrex is one of Pfizer's best-selling drugs, bringing in about $3.3 billion in sales last year. The drug has come under scrutiny since a similar drug, Merck's Vioxx, was pulled from the market last fall after it was linked to cardiac problems.

Also driving Pfizer shares were reports on Tuesday that researchers had halted a late-stage clinical trial for the drug SU-11248 after data showed the cancer drug to be highly effective in shrinking cancerous tumors. Pfizer is testing the drug for the treatment of stomach cancer.

Analysts quoted Tuesday said that because of the halt, Pfizer may be able to file for FDA approval this quarter, meaning the drug could be out on the market by the end of the year.

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