AstraZeneca Plc’s cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor performed better than Pfizer Inc’s Lipitor in an AstraZeneca-funded study of patients with metabolic syndrome, according to results released on Monday.
Metabolic syndrome covers a cluster of risk factors that predispose people to diabetes and heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood fat levels and low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Nearly a quarter of adults in the West have the condition.
The 400-patient clinical trial found that patients with metabolic syndrome given 20 milligrams a day of Crestor had a 49 percent reduction in levels of harmful LDL cholesterol levels after 12 weeks of treatment while their HDL increased 10.5 percent. Those on the same dose of Lipitor had a 43 percent decline in LDL and only a 5.7 percent increase in HDL, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Munich.
“Results from this study show that Crestor is an effective medication for this higher-risk patient group,” said Dr Christie Ballantyne of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, one of the study investigators.
AstraZeneca, which launched Crestor last year, is battling for market share against Lipitor, which with annual sales running at some $10 billion dominates the lucrative cholesterol drug market.
Cholesterol medicines are the biggest sellers in the world, with aggregate sales totaling $24.7 billion in the 12 months to June, according to healthcare consultancy IMS Health.
AstraZeneca’s Crestor has so far taken only a small part of that market, with sales in the second quarter of 2004 totaling $207 million, but the Anglo-Swedish firm is aiming to secure a 20 percent share.
Part of its strategy involves conducting a large number of post-launch clinical studies, which are designed to prove the effectiveness of Crestor and lay to rest concerns about possible adverse side effects.
The latest study is part of much larger project. So far, three studies in the so-called Galaxy clinical trials program have been completed and 14 studies are ongoing, which have in total recruited more than 40,000 patients.
AstraZeneca said the latest study, known as Comets, showed Crestor to be well tolerated, with a rate of adverse events similar to that seen with Lipitor.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.