It is good to see that sometimes drug manufacturers put consumer safety ahead of corporate profits and the bottom line. On December 2, Pfizer Inc announced that it was terminating all clinical trials for torcetrapib, a highly anticipated cholesterol drug.
An independent data safety monitoring board, the only entity with access to unblinded study data, recommended terminating the ILLUMINATE study due to an imbalance of mortality and cardiovascular events. Pfizer acted immediately to pull the plug on the drug and notified the FDA and all clinical investigators to advise patients to stop taking it.
This is especially bad news for consumers because torcetrapib was the first in line of a new class of cholesterol drugs that doctors hoped would improve the battle against heart disease. Unlike Lipitor and other statin drugs that lower “bad” cholesterol, torcetrapib was designed to elevate the amount of “good” cholesterol in the body.
Pfizer had invested nearly one billion dollars in developing the compound and had high hopes that it would improve the company’s near term financial prospects. Although the move to abandon development of the drug is an economic blow to the company and its investors, I applaud the decision. Rather than manipulate, suppress or lie about clinical data in order to ramp up revenue and profits, sometimes major pharmaceutical companies follow proper moral and ethical guidelines for the benefit of public safety.