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Pfizer’s New Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug, Tofacitinib: Breakthrough or Bust?

Despite their latest failuresrheumatoid arthritis hands in producing an effective Alzheimer’s drug, Pfizer has jumped right back into the limelight for their new creation, tofacitinib. The drug appears to be a promising source of relief for the daily pains of arthritis unlike other rheumatoid arthritis medicines. Although expected to generate over $1 billion in annual sales for Pfizer, tofacitinib has not exactly been greeted with optimism.

What is Tofacitinib?

Pfizer has developed a  twice-per-month rhematoid arthritis injection called tofacitinib for reducing swelling and pain or aching of the joints, and increasing movement capabilities. If approved, tofacitinib may also be prescribed for treating psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and preventing transplant rejection. Tofacitinib may sound a bit like Abbott Laboratories’ Humira, but, the two vary greatly when it comes to side effects. Reactions induced by tofacitinib have been shown to occur much more often and in highly severe cases. Tofacitinib may even increase the risk of lymphatic system disorders, certain infections, and possibly cancer.

Tofacitinib currently awaits approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who has required more in-depth studies and examinations to confirm the safety of the medicine. Nonetheless, hopes are high as FDA advisory pannels have already given tofacitinib a thumbs up.

What’s the Catch?

Critics urge the public to raise skepticism over these soon-to-be-released treatments. Pfizer has been an inspiration for many as the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturing company, appearing to be capable of almost anything. And, Pfizer’s history has shown that the company truly will do anything, that is, to make the big bucks. With a past of legal issues resulting in billions of dollars in fines, Pfizer’s shining reputation has indubitably been dulled by corporate schemes and bribery.

As drug manufacturers often lack integrity, many of the medicines produced by these powerhouses may not be so reputable. Cutting-corners and “cherry-picking” research results to their advantage can expose consumers to serious harm. Only time will tell if tofacitinib is a safe and effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and not just another slimy plan to pocket a pretty penny.