Does Pfizer Have a Win in its Back Pocket?

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has put the brakes on a study involving its second best-selling prescription, Lyrica, as a treatment for nerve pain in patients with HIV.

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The company was studying the impact of Lyrica on patients with HIV neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that often starts as a burning pain in the feet. Early studies showed patient improvement as nearly identical to those using a placebo. No safety concerns were noted in the study.

With the loss of its patent for Lipitor, the popular cholesterol medication, Pfizer had hoped the pain prescription Lyrica could quickly become the company’s new best-seller. Lyrica brought in $955 million in revenues for the first quarter.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is just as desperate for a win as its competitor. Many are hoping that a new chief executive means a new strategy when it comes to handling of lawsuits related to the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

Alex Gorsky has taken the reigns from former CEO William Weldon and will now have to decide whether the company will begin to settle numerous outstanding lawsuits related to the drug Risperdal. Courts have recently been deciding against the company, including a $1 billion judgement in Arkansas.

An Arkansas court found that Johnson & Johnson attempted to conceal dangers of Risperdal, which is used to treat schizophrenia but was also marketed as a treatment for behavioral problems and sleep disorders. Among the reported side effects of the drug were boys developing breasts that could potentially require mastectomies.

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