Data on torcetrapib expected

Data slated for release Monday could shed light on Pfizer’s torcetrapib failure and help determine the fate of other compounds in the same class. The data, from two carotid IMT trials run by a researcher in the Netherlands and from the ILLUSTRATE trial run by Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, are scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Researchers in the three studies used ultrasound imaging to measure the amount of plaque regression in the artery associated with torcetrapib. Cardiologists say the studies should be important, if not definitive, in clarifying the mechanisms of torcetrapib’s failure. Pfizer canceled its ILLUMINATE phase III trial of torcetrapib last December after an unexpected number of deaths. As yet unknown is whether they were due to the HDL-raiser’s tendency to elevate blood pressure or to its method of plaque reduction—CETP inhibition. The latter scenario could suggest worsening clinical outcomes, potentially dooming CETP agents in development by Merck, Roche, Bayer and Pfizer. Results from the two IMT and one IVUS trial aren’t likely to provide clear answers, though, said Prudential Analyst Tim Anderson in a recent note. What could? Further answers may come when Pfizer releases an analysis of the ILLUMINATE data, he said, “sometime downstream of ACC.”

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