Pfizer returns allergic asthma drug to Rigel

Pfizer's decision to end its allergy and respiratory R&D work has prompted the company to return rights to the R343 program for allergic asthma to Rigel Pharmaceuticals. The drug has shown promise in Phase I trials, and Rigel plans to begin designing a Phase II program for the drug this year. Pfizer first gained access to the drug when Rigel licensed its portfolio of inhaled small molecule syk inhibitors to the drug giant in 2005. Early-stage trials of the drug started two years later.

"It is rare in our business that one has the opportunity to develop an asset which is both promising and on which the research and development has been as well done as the package that Pfizer is transferring to us," observed Rigel CEO James Gower in a release. "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." He noted that with Pfizer's return of the program, R343 becomes Rigel's most advanced in-house project. The developer is also teamed with AstraZeneca on a potential blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug currently in Phase III trials.

- here's the release from Rigel

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