Several posts this past week with the startling lack of innovation being shown with new drugs being brought to trial by the pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma in particular seems to be stuck in a follow-on rut or is increasingly turning its eye toward the lure of generics.
Merck is now going for a home run by pursuing its possible mega-blockbuster anacetrapib. Analysts and competitors have called it potentially one of the biggest heart drugs to come along in decades. The drug works partially by raising a patient's HDL, and is a new class of drugs that are CETP inhibitors. Merck is now racing Roche and Lilly for first place with an HDL drug. This race is not without risk as Pfizer's CETP inhibitor, torcetrapib, failed miserably in late stage clinicals due to safety issues.
Roche CEO Severin Schwan feels whoever unlocks the secret to CETP inhibitors may be in line for a mega-blockbuster that could deliver Lipitor type-sales in the billions and billions. So Merck is gearing up to swing for the fences with anacetrapib at the American Heart Association meeting next week. They're willing to take the risk to truly innovate and are betting 100's of millions in the process. See Fierce Biotech.
Posted by Bruce Lehr November 10th 2010.