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ACC12: Has Big Pharma found its new class of blockbusters?

by Jeffrey Clark on March 26, 2012

The American College of Cardiology is a mainstay in our industry.  While focused on cardiologists, the conference attracts a bevy of drug and device companies looking to curry favor with their primary customers.  Some have mentioned the depressed mood, energy and attendance in Chicago this year but its difficult to ignore the potential coming from a new class of drugs in cardiovascular health.

A new cholesterol-fighting drug candidate from Sanofi and Regeneron have clinical development executives in Big Pharma charged up.

The drug focuses on the protein PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9) which binds to LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’ receptors on the liver, compromising the organ’s ability to filter the bad cholesterol from the blood.  If effective, the new class of drugs could lower LDL even more effectively than statins, the biggest drug category in history for the pharmaceutical industry.

Specifically, Regeneron is using a monoclonal antibody or lab-produced protein called REGN727.  Early stage trials results show the drug to be safe and also effective in reducing LDL levels in healthy patients and even those already taking Lipitor.  Details were published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine and will be presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting this weekend in Chicago.

Who else is involved?  Amgen, Merck, Novartis and Pfizer each have their own PCSK9 inhibitor drugs.  As we all know, early results are fickle in predicting ultimate late stage success.  However, it’s been years since the pharmaceutical industry had their hopes pinned on such a significant new class of drugs.

Update 3/27 – A midstage trial showed that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi’s drug reduced bad cholesterol by as much as 72% after 12 weeks in people taking Pfizer’s Lipitor.   Bloomberg

Update 3/26 - Amgen reported strong results and no side effects from its most recent study over the weekend.  Reuters

Best Tweet: The Coca Cola on the #ACC12 floor. Coke is heart healthy, don’t you know?

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