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Pfizer reveals Exubera transition programme

Pfizer will place an extended "transition" programme to supply its Exubera inhaled insulin product for up to 12 months, depending on existing stock levels and expiry dates

Pfizer has revealed that it will place an extended "transition" programme to supply its Exubera inhaled insulin product for up to 12 months, depending on existing stock levels and expiry dates.

Exubera will be officially withdrawn from the market in January 2008, but the transition programme will help some patients switch back to other forms of treatment.

Diabetes UK has welcomed Pfizer's decision, but said that it would like to see another pharmaceutical company take on the production of inhaled insulin and that it was crucial that people with diabetes have access to a variety of treatments to ensure that they could self-manage their condition effectively.

The group added that it wanted to see a long-term solution put in place and revealed it would contact a variety of pharmaceutical companies in the UK and the US to encourage them to consider taking over the manufacture of inhaled insulin.

Pfizer's CEO Jeffrey Kindler announced the withdrawal of Exubera on 18 October 2007, and the company incurred a USD 2.8bn charge for doing so.

While the decision to axe Exubera has made Pfizer popular among analysts for cutting back on costs, it has also angered co-marketing partner, Nektar Therapeutics, and could undermine a key aspect of Pfizer's recovery strategy.

Pfizer did not inform Nektar that it was going to remove Exubera from the market until the 18 October announcement. A Pfizer spokesman defended the company's track record of partnering, saying that it had a strong record and was committed to building more.

Pfizer has spent in the region of USD 370m in 2007 to promote Exubera. Activities have included the sending of special diabetes educators to doctors to teach them how to use the new device, as well as DTC advertising investment.

17th December 2007

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