Friday, December 08, 2006
Pfizer has been in the news a lot recently because they halted development of their next cholesterol drug Torcetrapib, which increases HDL levels while lowering LDL, which was supposed to replace Lipitor, the $12B blockbuster that is soon coming off patent. Until then, Pfizer has gotten a ruling in canadian courts to block the development of generic versions of Lipitor. However here at bayblab, we know this whole cholesterol thing is bullshit. Consider a similar scenario: high PSA levels are indicative of prostate cancer. Does lowering PSA levels prevent prostate cancer. Hell no. In fact the popular hairloss drug Propecia, which does just that, sometimes impairs the diagnosis of prostate cancer, putting you at risk to have unreported disease. That is because a diagnostic marker is not necessarily a therapeutic target. Often they are a consequence of the disease not a cause. In fact numerous studies have pointed out that cholesterol lowering drugs do not improve health of reduce mortality: "In the 22 controlled cholesterol lowering trials studied total and coronary heart disease mortality was not changed significantly either overall or in any subgroup. A statistically significant 0.32% reduction in non-fatal coronary heart disease seemed to be due to bias as event frequencies were unrelated to trial length and to mean net reduction in cholesterol value; individual changes in cholesterol values were unsystematically or not related to outcome; and after correction for a small but significant increase in non-medical deaths in the intervention groups total mortality remained unchanged (odds ratio 1.02)." Yet these drugs get approved by the FDA (and Health Canada). Is it a case of corporate meddling with regulatory approval? Well it wouldn't be suprising considering Pfizer has been caught in the act today: "A government researcher pleaded guilty Friday to misdemeanor conflict of interest for taking $285,000 in consulting fees from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. for work that improperly overlapped his official duties.".
Posted by Anonymous Coward at 2:37 PM