Merck’s Anacetrapib showed promise in lowering cholesterol level


High cholesterol level can put you at risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every six adults (16.3%) of the U.S. adult population has high total cholesterol. The level defined as high total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL and above. To combat the high cholesterol level, statins is the most commonly prescribed drug category and Lipitor is the most commonly consumed drug. Recently, Merck reported the results of its pivotal study named “Define study” and the drug appears to be the most potent ever cleared a critical safety hurdle. The study, scheduled for presentation on Wednesday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

About new cholesterol lowering drug
Anacetrapib is a CETP (Cholesteryl ester transfer protein) inhibitor developed to treat high cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. The drug, anacetrapib, is the first in a new class of drugs designed to clear dangerous cholesterol from the arteries. 

About the study
The study was conducted on 1,623 patients, who had coronary disease or were at high risk for heart disease, and were taking statin such as Lipitor. Patients were given 100 mg of anacetrapib or a placebo once a day in addition to their statin and followed up for 18 months. At the start of the study, patients on an average had a baseline HDL of 40 and LDL of 81. The results revealed that patients who were on anacetrapib showed unprecedented improvements in the cholesterol level. The drug –  

  • Lowered bad cholesterol, or LDL, by 40% (25), whereas LDL level of placebo patients fell...

    to 77. 
  • Raised good cholesterol, HDL, by 138% (101), whereas HDL level of placebo patients rose only to 46.  
  • Cut the levels of LP(a) by 36% levels of, which is believed to be an independent cardiovascular risk factor.
  • Showed no safety or torcetrapib-like problems. 

During the study, researchers observed a trend toward lower rates of cardiovascular death, heart attack, stroke and hospitalization for unstable angina in the patients. Also they found that need for angioplasty or bypass surgery over 18 months was considerably lower on anacetrapib. 

Merck is positive regarding the new cholesterol lowering drug, and announced their plans to conduct a 30,000-patient global study that is designed to show definitively whether the drug prevents heart attacks and deaths. The study is expected to begin in 2011 Q2.  

Roche, another big giant are also forging ahead with development of a CETP inhibitor, called dalcetrapib.

The results of the drug appear promising compared to placebo.  As time comes, therapy might prove to be a valuable treatment for heart patients suffering with high cholesterol level. However, further research will substantiate the effect of the drug in diverse population as well as the impact on severe heart disease cases like heart attack.

Source:  USA Today



3 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    Interesting new therapy – but nothing on side effects which can be a problem for teh existing drugs.

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