From the Kaiser Family Foundation:
Pfizer on Saturday announced it has ended clinical trials and development of its experimental cholesterol drug torcetrapib after an independent monitoring board said participants in a large trial who took the medication had an increased risk of death, the Washington Post reports (Stein, Washington Post, 12/4). Torcetrapib is a new type of anticholesterol treatment that Pfizer hoped would help replace its blockbuster statin Lipitor when that medication loses patent protection in 2010 or 2011 (Dow Jones, 12/3). The company has spent at least $800 million on developing the drug (Washington Post, 12/4). Late Friday, the independent safety board informed Pfizer researcher Steven Ryder, who was overseeing torcetrapib’s development, that its regular monthly review of the drug found that there were 82 deaths among patients taking torcetrapib in a clinical trial, compared with 51 deaths among trial participants who did not take the treatment. Patients taking torcetrapib also were more likely to experience heart failure and other problems than other patients, the board said.
Pfizer has completely halted all marketing, stopped all testing, and ended the development of torcetrapib. The Health Care Blog comments:
it is also a pointer that some of the easy such as heart disease and diabetes may be nearing their natural limits for medication therapy, and that lifestyle changes, the old “diet and exercise’ may really be the best way to deal with them allied of course with the generics which were the blockbusters of yesteryear.
Pfizer has reportedly taken an $800 million hit on the stage 3 development of torcetrapib alone and stock prices are sure to fall as well. Kevin, M.D. says that there is talk that Pfizer’s stock will fall to $20 a share.
Pfizer is definitely in a rush to find the next blockbuster drug to fill the void torcetrapib has left in its pocketbook. Overemphasis on marketing and underemphasis on R&D has left Pfizer with declining drug sales and no new drugs in the pipeline to pick up the slack.8