Pfizer Loses $2.8 Bil In Costly Insulin Flop

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • AVERY JOHNSON Wall Street Journal

Pfizer Inc.'s decision to shelve a novel insulin inhaler and take a $2.8 billion pretax hit on the product -- one of the drug industry's costliest failures ever -- rids the company of an albatross. But it suggests the risks Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler and other industry executives face as they steer makers of traditional pills more deeply into biotechnology drugs.

"We clearly underestimated the barrier to moving patients or the physician community earlier to Exubera. I think this is one of the major issues we underestimated -- the resistance from physicians and patients to going onto Exubera -- going onto insulin in any form earlier than they have been to date." [ndash] Ian Read, Pfizer president, world-wide pharmaceutical operations
See a full transcript of Pfizer's conference call, provided by Thomson StreetEvents ( (Adobe Acrobat Required.)

The world's largest drug maker by sales said it is pulling Exubera, a biotech medication that offers diabetes patients an alternative to injected insulin, after the product recorded a disappointing $12 million in sales this year, in part due to concerns among doctors about its long-term safety. Earlier the company predicted the drug would be a $2 billion-a-year product.

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