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Pfizer returns asthma drug to Rigel

Pfizer is returning full rights to a clinical-stage inhaled asthma drug to Rigel Pharmaceuticals

Pfizer is returning full rights to a clinical-stage inhaled asthma drug to Rigel Pharmaceuticals as part of a larger decision to move away from developing drugs for allergy and respiratory conditions. 

Rigel said it will assume development of R343, making it the company's most advanced in-house R&D project. The drug, which is an inhaled syk inhibitor for allergic asthma, recently completed several phase I clinical trials, and Rigel plans to design a phase II trial later this year. 

"The introduction of a therapeutic that would target a possible underlying cause of allergic asthma, such as R343's inhibition of syk in the immune cascade, may provide a significant advancement in the treatment of this disorder," according to Rigel chairman and CEO James M Gower.

Rigel licensed its portfolio of inhaled, small-molecule syk inhibitors to Pfizer in a 2005 deal. Pfizer subsequently selected R343 as the lead product candidate for intrapulmonary delivery in the potential treatment of allergic asthma. The pharma giant conducted a series of phase I studies of the drug beginning in 2007, testing it first in healthy adults and later in adults with mild asthma. The phase I programme showed R343 to be well tolerated and to provide improvement in both the early and late phase asthmatic responses following an allergen challenge, Rigel noted. 

Pfizer said in February of this year that it planned to halt R&D funding in the areas of allergy, respiratory, urology, internal medicine and tissue repair. 

6th May 2011

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