Torcetrapib - Lipitor drug combo shows promise

According to drug company Pfizer the results of two mid-stage studies on its experimental cholesterol drug torcetrapib, combined with its cholesterol drug Lipitor, were so promising that the company will continue into the final stage.

It appears that the expensive development process significantly increased levels of "good" cholesterol while significantly lowering "bad" cholesterol.

The world's biggest drug company presented the studies at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas.

Apparently Pfizer considers torcetrapib as its most important experimental product and hopes it will succeed Lipitor when it loses patent protection in 2011.

Lipitor is the world's biggest-selling drug with annual sales of nearly $12 billion.

Pfizer says in the study of nearly 500 patients, those who received 60 milligrams of torcetrapib and either 10, 20, 40 or 80 milligrams of Lipitor, saw their heart-protective good cholesterol rise between 44 percent and 66 percent.

At the same time their bad LDL cholesterol fell between 41 percent and 60 percent.

It seems that while torcetrapib lowered LDL cholesterol, previous studies have shown that the effect is greater when combined with Lipitor.

Pfizer says the patients taking 60 milligrams of torcetrapib with Lipitor saw an increase in systolic blood pressure, which will be studied and analyzed further in the Phase III studies.

Torcetrapib is designed to block a protein in the blood known as CEPT that is responsible for transferring cholesterol from its "good" HDL carrier to the "bad" LDL carrier of cholesterol that results in the buildup of plaque in arteries of the heart.

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