Abbott, AstraZeneca end Certriad development pact

By Bruce Japsen
Posted Dec. 23, 2010 at 8:13 a.m.

Abbott Laboratories and British drug giant AstraZeneca have decided to stop developing the drug Certriad, a pill that combines drugs already on the market.

Such combination pills are developed as a convenience to consumers by having several different drugs in one pill, but criticized by consumer groups, health plans and employers as a way for the drug makers to extend patents and continue charging high prices. Critics say the ingredients generally used in the pills have cheaper generic copies or similar less expensive rivals already on the market.

The Certiad product included a combination of a statin and a fenofibrate. There are already generic statins and fenofibrates on the market.

The companies said they made their decision after “careful consideration” of a so-called “complete response letter” they received earlier this year from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Abbott would not disclose the information in the letter this morning. Such letters generally mean the FDA has concerns about safety or efficacy of the product and the agency is not prepared to approve it.

Because of the letter, Abbott said the partnership ended after the companies considered “the resulting regulatory delay and the commercial attractiveness of the product in the U.S. market.”

“There will be no financial impact to Abbott’s ongoing earnings per share in 2010 or 2011 resulting from this action,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday evening after close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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