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Pfizer forms rare disease unit

Pfizer has created a new unit designed to increase the company's research and development activities for rare diseases

Pfizer has created a new unit designed to increase the company's research and development activities for rare diseases. The Rare Disease Research Unit, which will be part of the company's Worldwide Research and Development operations, will focus on finding therapies for diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 patients in the US.

Drugs for those diseases are eligible for orphan drug status from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a designation that carries a number of potential benefits, including tax breaks and seven years of US market exclusivity.

The unit will be led by Edward Mascioli, a medical doctor who was most recently the founder and CEO of the healthcare private equity firm Dapis Capital. Earlier in his career, Mascioli was vice president of Clinical Affairs at Peptimmune and senior medical director at Paraxel. He will be based out of Pfizer's Cambridge, Massachusetts, offices and will report to Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, Pfizer's senior vice president of BioTherapeutics Research and Development.

Pfizer said the unit will work closely with patient advocacy groups as it develops its research strategy. The unit will pursue treatments for rare diseases across a range of therapeutic categories, the company added.

15th June 2010

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