Friday, December 08, 2006

Pfizer is in trouble

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.".


6 comments:

A negro loving yankee said...

As much as I hate bayblab you have to give it to them: they have credibility.

They have so much of it that they don't even need to write grammatically correct or typoless sentences: "In fact numerous studies have pointed out that cholesterol lowering drug do not improve health of reduce mortality:"

Thank you bayblab for providing us with these great daily misspelled insights, thank you.

Anonymous Coward said...

Are you bitter your propecia prescription is making your prostate bigger than your hardwood Mr. Yankee?

Anonymous Coward said...

Perhaps I should point you to the previous post on gene therapy in your jeans...

Bayman said...

Thanks for the spell-checking services yankee. Not sure if you noticed but Microsoft is now including a spellchecking feature with their popular Word software and many other popular applications are following suit, so you might be out of a job soon.

Great post though. I can't get over the fact that a company actually got caught trying to bias public research...there are lots pseudolegal ways of doing this (see OHRI board of directors for an example). But it's great to make a public statement that this is actually wrong. I hope cancer researchers are watching...

Bayman said...

Then again, researchers themselves should not necessarily take all the heat...government funding of health research needs to keep up to all the bling-bling the private sector is flashing around if we want to keep public research in the public interest.

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