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J&J;, Pfizer R&D; Budgets to Top $2 Billion

Times Wire Services

Pfizer Inc., whose impotence drug Viagra has taken the drug industry by storm since it hit pharmacy shelves earlier this month, said it will spend more than $2 billion on research and development in 1998. Rival Johnson & Johnson said it will spend a record $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion on research and development this year as it seeks growth from new health-care products, up from $2 billion last year. At the company’s annual shareholders meeting, Pfizer Chief Executive William Steere said he is interested to see how many men refill their prescriptions for Viagra, which works about 80% of the time. The drug is getting 15,000 to 20,000 prescriptions a day, according to market researchers. A Pfizer spokesman also disclosed that before launching Viagra, it consulted with medical experts at the Vatican who said they had no objections to the drug. Andy McCormick said the company doesn’t normally discuss new drugs with the Vatican, but because Viagra is used to improve sexual relations, “we just thought it was the responsible thing to do.”


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