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Pfizer's February Failures

Pfizer
CNBC.com
Pfizer

0 for 3. That's Pfizer's unfortunate drug development record this month.

This morning the world's biggest pharmaceutical firm announced that it's scrapping two more drugs that were in late-stage studies. That's on top of the experimental pancreatic cancer treatment PFE gave up on earlier this month. None of the products worked any better than what's already out there.

So, three phase-three drugs gone in three weeks. Everyone knows drug development is a risky business and there are no guarantees, but Pfizer's having a run of bad luck here. I remember a few years ago, though, that Merck had a similar spate of failures. Losing a drug in late-stage development is bad news because it takes so much time and costs so much money--often years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars--to get it that far.

Pfizer, which is facing the patent loss on its top-selling drug in a couple years, needs as many runs and hits it can get to help offset that financial cliff. It's a major reason why it's buying Wyeth.

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At first, PFE shares went up. As I write this, they're slightly lower. The stock is so beaten down, some analysts might say that investors have priced in no drug-pipeline success.

Maybe Wyeth will give Pfizer more shots on goal. And they'll cost more than 60-billion bucks.

Are they worth it? Send me your thoughts at Pharma@cnbc.com