Novel cholesterol drug trial halted

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 25, 2006

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Earlier this month Pfizer suspended a large phase III study investigating a combination of the experimental drug torcetrapib with atorvastatin because of an increased rate of death and cardiovascular events among participants taking this mix over those who took the statin alone.

"While the [Data Safety Monitoring Board] information ... was both surprising and disappointing, our focus is on the best interests of the patients," said Pfizer's CEO Jeffrey B. Kindler.

Torcetrapib is part of a new class of drugs called CETP inhibitors that raise HDL cholesterol. Lowering LDL is a long-established strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk, with efforts to raise HDL seen as the new frontier. Several other firms have similar drugs in the works, although this one was the farthest along.

"We believed that the study was coming along as expected, and this new information was totally unexpected and disappointing, given the potential benefits of this drug," said Dr. Philip Barter, director of the Heart Research Institute in Camperdown, Australia, and chair of the steering committee overseeing the study.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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