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Pfizer's Inhaler For Diabetics Fails

  • Brandweek, Tuesday, February 27, 2007 11:45 AM
Exubera--an inhaled insulin product for diabetics that Pfizer forecast would produce $2 billion in annual sales -- has turned into a bust, with repeated delays and negligible sales.

In its most recent investor letter, Merrill Lynch reports only 824 new prescriptions written and 1,111 total ongoing prescriptions. To put that in perspective, Pfizer has said it launched the brand with 2,300 reps touting the brand to 5,000 doctors specializing in diabetes, meaning that only one-fifth of those doctors have persuaded a single patient to stick with Exubera.

Pfizer last year paid Sanofi-Aventis $1.4 billion for the device that looks a lot like a marijuana bong. Patients inhale a cloud of insulin from the top of the tube in the same way a pot smoker takes a hit of cannabis smoke.

One source familiar with Pfizer's thinking prior to the launch says the company was relying on consumer research data that has turned out to be faulty. The data indicated that new diabetics would be more likely to get treatment if they could avoid using needles.



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