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Study results not IDEAL for Lipitor

Published on 16/11/05 at 02:38pm

A new study of Lipitor failed to show it was better than Merck's Zocor at preventing major coronary events.

Results showing Lipitor to be no better than its main competitor at preventing heart disease-related death, heart attack and cardiac arrest have deprived Pfizer of an anticipated marketing boost.

There was some value to be found for the company in its IDEAL (Incremental Decrease in End Points Through Aggressive Lipid Lowering) study. Lipitor showed statistically significant reductions in non-fatal heart attacks and stroke.

The study, which was presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, also found that Lipitor lowered low-density LDL-C (or 'bad' cholesterol) significantly more than Zocor.

The five-year trial involved nearly 9,000 patients with an average age of 62 who had suffered a previous heart attack. Patients were given either the highest possible dose of Lipitor (80mg) or one of the most commonly prescribed doses of Zocor (20mg or 40mg).

Lipitor was the world's best-selling drug in 2004 with sales of $11 billion - Zocor is its nearest competitor with $5 billion in sales.

Lipitor recently experienced an unexpectedly rapid slowdown in the US, where sales grew just 1% between July and September. Next year it will face renewed competition in that market when cheaper generic versions of Zocor become available.

Pfizer also presented new data at the AMA meeting from phase II trials on its combination of Lipitor and torcetrapib, another cholesterol-lowering product.

The combination was shown to significantly increase HDL-C ('good' cholesterol) and decrease LDL-C in a study of nearly 500 patients with 60mg of torcetrapib and 10, 20, 40 or 80mg of Lipitor.

If approved the Lipitor/torcetrapib combination would follow Caduet, which was launched last year and brings together Lipitor with Pfizer's blockbuster hypertension medicine Istin.

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