Pfizer Plan to Sell Bundled Cholesterol Drugs Stirs Controversy
Pfizer Inc. is already making headlines with an experimental cholesterol drug that promises to boost a person's HDL (so-called "good" cholesterol), unlike the revolutionary statin drugs that work by ridding the body of LDL ("bad" cholesterol).
Experts have no qualms with preliminary studies that show the drug can substantially raise a person's HDL. What's drawing their ire is Pfizer's plan to sell the drug only in combination with its best-selling statin Lipitor, The New York Times reports.
The new drug, called torcetrapib, isn't expected to hit store shelves until at least 2007, the newspaper said. Some studies have shown that it may raise blood pressure, a serious problem for any heart patient.
Nonetheless, critics say Pfizer is making a mistake by offering the important new treatment only as a bundled drug. They say some patients may benefit more if the drug were used with other statins, or even as a stand-alone pill. The plan to bundle the two drugs, some say, is nothing more than a clever attempt to protect Lipitor from competing medications.
Pfizer, according to the newspaper, says torcetrapib and Lipitor work in complementary ways, and that it's natural for patients to take both. While the statin drug works to cut LDL levels that can cause a buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries, torcetrapib may actually stop the buildup of plaque itself, the Times reported.
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