Pfizer culls 5 experimental cancer trials and an acne drug in Q1 clear out

Pfizer HQ
Pfizer is swinging the ax again after making big cuts in other areas back in January. (Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons)

Pfizer has cleared out five early stage oncology drug tests from its pipeline, including three tests for utomilumab, as well as an acne drug.

Announced in its first-quarter pipeline update today, the discontinued cancer medications include:

  • PF-06883541, a CD19 molecule targeted cytotoxicity CAR-T.
  • Chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) antagonist PF-04136309 (PDF), which had orphan status for pancreatic cancer in the U.S.
  • Three trials for utomilumab, a CD137 agonist monoclonal antibody. The tests evaluated the drug both on its own and in combination with Merck’s PD-1 Keytruda, and with Kyowa Hakko Kirin's anti-CCR4 antibody (mogamulizumab).

All five trials were in phase 1. 

Pfizer does have other combo tests for utomilumab, including more recently with Gilead-Kite Pharma’s CAR-T Yescarta.

RELATED: Gilead/Kite team up with Pfizer for CAR-T-mAb combination

The company is also stopping work on PF-06423264, an acetyl-Coenzyme A carboxylase alpha and beta inhibitor, which was in phase 1 tests for acne.

This isn't the first time Pfizer has axed a large section of its R&D projects. During its full-year results back in January, the Big Pharma announced it was backing out of work in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, after culling and selling off a series of unwanted assets from those two areas.

And during its Q1 earnings call this morning, the pharma's CEO Ian Read said, as many have in Big Pharma for a string of quarters now, that he does not see a need for a "transformative deal," or that there are any "reasonably priced" ops around. The focus is investing in the company's pipeline, although not across its recent cuts, of course.