They were supposed to be novel pain treatment and future blockbusters. Instead it appears that hopes for a class of medicines called NGF inhibitors are increasingly dim.

Pfizer (PFE) and Eli Lilly (LLY) announced late Thursday that their experimental NGF inhibitor didn’t meet its goals in a trial meant to support approval by the Food and Drug Administration. And, more damning, patients who got the drug had significantly more issues of joint damage — the big risk tied to NGF treatments — than those who got over-the-counter pain pills like ibuprofen.

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