Pfizer halts Torcetrapib development

In a huge blow to the world's largest drug maker, Pfizer announced that it will halt development of its cholesterol drug Torcetrapib, one of the biggest drugs in Pfizer's pipeline. The decision came after an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended terminating the study because of an imbalance of mortality and cardiovascular events. "Based on all the evidence we have seen regarding Torcetrapib and in light of prior study results, we were very surprised by the information received from the DSMB, the only body with access to the unblinded safety data. 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 Australia and Chairman of the Steering Committee overseeing the Torcetrapib study.

Tapped by many as a future blockbuster, the drug was expected to take the place of Lipitor--a $12 billion-a-year blockbuster--before that drug loses patent protection in 2010. Pfizer spent more than $800 million developing Torcetrapib and now says it will refocus its efforts on other opportunities and "continue to invest in a wide range of pipeline opportunities across a diverse range of therapeutic areas." Potential Pfizer collaborators will, no doubt, take advantage of Pfizer's tough situation and demand premium prices for new pacts. Just last week the company reassured analysts that the company's pipeline was healthy, pointing to Torcetrapib as a promising new blockbuster. 

- check out Pfizer's press release on the decision to halt Torcetrapib development
- see the FDA's statement on Pfizer's decision

PLUS: Pfizer isn't the only company dealing with cholesterol drug woes. Shares of Forbes Medi-Tech lost half their value this morning when the drug developer announced FM-VP4 did not lower bad cholesterol by 15 percent. However, the drug did hit its primary endpoint. Release

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