Five More Countries OK New Arthritis Pill

NEW YORK (July 15, 2013)--Five more countries have approved Pfizer Inc.'s new rheumatoid arthritis medicine, a twice-a-day pill viewed as a likely big seller, the drug maker said Monday.

Pfizer said Xeljanz has been approved in Russia, Argentina, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, which is the first European country to allow sales.

New York-based Pfizer is asking advisers to European Union medical regulators to reconsider their recommendation not to approve the drug.

The advisers said Xeljanz didn't control progression of the immune disorder enough to outweigh serious side effects seen in some patients, which include blood and other cancers, perforated intestines, tuberculosis and other infections, decreased infection-fighting cells, headaches and diarrhea.

Xeljanz, the first in a new class of drugs, was launched in the U.S. in November.

It has been heavily advertised.

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