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Pfizer withdraws drug for high blood pressure

Associated Press / December 11, 2010

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NEW YORK — Pfizer Inc. said yesterday it is pulling its blood pressure drug Thelin off the market and stopping all trials because the drug can cause fatal liver damage.

Thelin is sold in the European Union, Canada, and Australia as an oral treatment for severe pulmonary arterial hypertension, or high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. Pfizer said two patients who were taking Thelin died during a clinical trial, and a review of data from clinical studies and postmarketing reports showed a new link to liver injury.

Liver damage was a known side effect of Thelin and similar drugs, the company said, but the review uncovered a link to liver damage that was not tied to identifiable risk factors.

Pfizer said the withdrawal was voluntary and added that it has withdrawn its filing for marketing approval in the United States.

Since there are other treatment options, Pfizer said the benefits of Thelin don’t outweigh the risks.