Pfizer officially announced that it is halting development of what was to be one of their most promising drugs, torcetrapib. The drug was the first in a new class of drugs known as CETP inhibitors, which would have helped increase the amount of “good” cholesterol, or HDL, reducing heart disease.
The decision to pull the drug from development came after reports of 82 deaths of patients taking torcetrapib along with Lipitor during a clinical trial. In addition to the deaths, patients taking the drug experienced an increase in angina, congestive heart failure and procedures to clear clogged arteries.
Pfizer plans on determining if torcetrapib’s problems were caused by a rise in blood pressure that increased the patients’ risk of heart attack and stroke, or if the rising levels of HDL caused the more harm than good. The results of the study will determine if the whole class of drugs won’t work, or if they need to eliminate the blood pressure factor.