Pfizer halts development of cholesterol drug, even as others launch new ones

BOSTON — Pfizer said on Thursday it has stopped late-stage testing of a new drug as an alternative to generic cholesterol-lowering medicines, even as some other U.S. drugmakers turn to the drug — with…

Pfizer halts development of cholesterol drug, even as others launch new ones

BOSTON — Pfizer said on Thursday it has stopped late-stage testing of a new drug as an alternative to generic cholesterol-lowering medicines, even as some other U.S. drugmakers turn to the drug — with a shorter half-life than rival medicines — to bolster their pipeline.

The decision, even after safety data showed the new medication was well tolerated, will hurt Pfizer’s long-term hopes to replace long-lived drugs such as anti-inflammatory medication Celebrex, the company said.

As Pfizer and others look at new ways to boost sales of medicines with dwindling prescription volume, a substantial body of late-stage studies involving more than 35,000 patients, are likely to draw further scrutiny.

Several thousand U.S. patients continue to take Pfizer’s strong-selling Lipitor pills more than a decade after the first version lost patent protection and generic versions flooded the market. But the company is moving to find other kinds of medicines to replace legacy medicines that are expected to face generic competition in the next couple of years.

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