Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Big Winner in the Vytorin Debacle? It Might be Lilly

Steve Nissen's latest star turn, advising doctors everywhere to stop using Vytorin until there is better evidence it improves health outcomes, is surely going to be a boon for Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Those companies' good old fashioned statins (Lipitor and Crestor, respectively) will surely pick up a bit of ground in the cholesterol market.

But that is sure to come at a price: If (when?) Congress holds hearings on the Great Cholesterol Coverup (we’re guessing at the hearing topic here), you can bet everyone in the cholesterol class will take some lumps for their aggressive marketing. It won’t help that the Energy & Commerce Committee which is investigating Vytorin is also investigating Pfizer’s Lipitor DTC campaign.

Here's another company that stands to gain: Eli Lilly & Co.

Why? Because the emergence of Steve Nissen as perhaps the most visible critic of pharmaceutical industry practices and products means that people are sure to pay even more attention when he says a drug company did things right.

Here is what Nissen had to say about Lilly's anticlotting drug prasugrel during our FDA/CMS Summit for Biopharma Executives. "The company did a courageous trial against an active comparator and they informed the medical community: What were the benefits, what were the risks, and a reasonable and sensible person can look at that and say I get it.”

"The results with prasugrel were a very good result," Nissen said. "The drug prevented more myocardial infarctions than the bleeding episodes it caused. I think the drug is an advance."

Nissen said more or less the same thing to the New York Times when the pivotal trial results on prasugrel were published, and he has since given more interviews underscoring his belief that the drug should be approved by FDA as quickly as possible.

That, to put it mildly, would be wonderful news for Lilly. The company lost about 15% of its value during the fourth quarter as Wall Street fretted about the mixed data. (The RPM Report has just published more on this topic on our website. You have to be a subscriber to The RPM Report to read our complete analysis, or sign up for a 30-day free trial to get a taste of what you are missing.)

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