Torcetrapib disaster unlikely to sink other CETP inhibitors

Pfizer researchers rolled out the data on torcetrapib--the would-be blockbuster felled by data indicating a heightened risk of death and stroke--at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association. And the numbers were being carefully scrutinized by developers advancing a group of similar CETP inhibitors--drugs that raise the level of good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol--that are advancing under the shadow of significant risk factors.

Pfizer, of course, halted development of torcetrapib in one of the most spectacular trial failures of 2006. Researchers for the company say they still don't know why the drug spurred cardiovascular problems. Meanwhile, Merck and Roche are both considering pivotal trials for their own CETP inhibitors, weighing the enormous costs of trials that would need more than 10,000 volunteers to gather the kind of data that could satisfy regulators. The NYT's Alex Berenson concludes that from what he's heard the new therapies will likely stay in the clinic, but advancement will be slow and very cautious.

- read the article from The New York Times
and read the report from The Wall Street Journal

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