At the American Heart Association conference yesterday a new study was released that showed that Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor, showed no significant reduction in "major coronary events" versus rival treatment Merck's Zocor.
The five-year study found no statistically significant difference between Lipitor and US drugmaker Merck's Zocor in reducing heart disease-related death, heart attack and cardiac arrest. Results of the study were presented on Tuesday at an American Heart Association conference.
The study did show a difference in some secondary targets. Lipitor was 13 per cent better than Zocor in reducing major heart events when strokes were included.
The comparison between Lipitor and Zocor is important for Pfizer. The world's largest drugmaker continuously seeks to develop an extensive body of data that will persuade doctors that Lipitor, the biggest-selling drug in the world with $12 billion, yes that is Billion dollars in sales this year, is better than older, cheaper drugs from the same statin class of cholesterol reducers. Pfizer wants to preserve sales in the face of generic versions of Zocor, whose US patent expires next year.
As we all know when a patent expires any company can recreate copycat drugs that are much cheaper than the original drugs were. These generic drugs are opposed with billions of dollars by the drug companies to protect their patents and to try to recoup more money from the research that went into creating drugs like Lipitor or Zocor in the first place.
The new study compared the highest dose of Lipitor to relatively average doses of Zocor in who had had a previous heart attack.
Lipitor had 17 per cent fewer non-fatal heart attacks in the study versus patients on Zocor, and significant reduction in other heart problems requiring medical attention.
But there was no difference in the overall death rate between the two treatments.