Merck cautiously upbeat on cholesterol drug

Merck is looking to succeed where Pfizer so spectacularly failed. Merck presented positive Phase II data for its CTEP inhibitor anacetrapib, a drug designed to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Anacetrapib significantly reduced LDL-cholesterol and Apolipoprotein B and increased HDL-cholesterol and Apolipoprotein A-1 both as monotherapy and in combination with Lipitor compared to placebo.

The key, of course, is creating a drug that doesn't increase blood pressure--the side effect that led to torcetrapib's demise. The question regulators will want answered is whether the mortality associated torcetrapib is common to the entire class of CTEP inhibitors. Roche is also developing a Phase II CETP-Inhibitor, R1658. Merck plans to evaluate what went wrong with torcetrapib before proceeding with the next stage of testing. Analysts estimate the market for such a drug could be $15 billion dollars.

- see this release on the data from Merck
- read the Star-Ledger article for more

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Pfizer halts Torcetrapib development. Report
Session to detail torcetrapib's stunning failure. Report