Product News and Recalls

Few cholesterol drugs in the works

Despite the fact that high cholesterol triggering heart attacks and strokes is the biggest killer in the United States, few companies are developing new drugs to treat the condition, according to a report in Forbes.

Forbes attributes that situation in part to a series of high profile failures from Pfizer, Merck , and AstraZeneca. Cheap generic versions of popular medicines including Pfizer’s Lipitor have also likely chased off some potential developers.

Lipitor itself has generated some health concerns in recent years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has added warnings to the labels of Lipitor and other types of drugs called statins, advising that they may increase blood sugar. This, in turn, is a risk factor for Type II diabetes.

According to the story, there appears to be only one new cholesterol-lowering pill in mid-stage development — ETC-1002 from Esperion Therapeutics of Plymouth, Mich.

Forbes says the pill looks promising in clinical trials, where it reduced low-density lipoprotein, the “bad cholesterol,” by as much as 43 percent. The drug also appears to lower triglycerides and blood sugar.

The drug, and Esperion itself, both have complicated histories. Pfizer purchased Esperion for $1.3 billion in 2003, and spun it out again in 2008. Since then, Esperion has drawn $55.75 million in funding from venture capitalists.

But the story says Esperion will need a large pharmaceutical company to partner with, if it’s going to really capitalize on ETC-1002 in a broad market.

Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Lipitor lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries.

See the story here: