The cholesterol-lowering statin Lipitor has raked in more than $131 billion in global sales for its maker Pfizer since it hit the market in 1996, averaging about $13.7 billion per year most years. However, generic competition and other statins have taken a sizable toll on Lipitor sales. Pfizer expects the drug to reap a mere $2 billion in 2013.
Perhaps it is time for Lipitor and other statins to be replaced by newer classes of cholesterol-lowering drugs, especially since news of more side effects associated with their use have come to light. The latest studies suggest that Lipitor can increase blood sugar levels and put users at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The chronic disease is expected to grow exponentially over the next decades even if it wasn’t spurred on by the use of statins. A type 2 diabetes diagnosis is nothing to sniff at. The disease can lead to premature death as well as a host of morbidities including heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, blindness and amputations.
Other cholesterol-lowering drugs are already in development by several drug companies, according to Maxxwell A.R. Chatsko’s story in The Motley Fool, including Regeneron and Amgen, which both have experimental drugs in a new class of medications currently in phase 3 clinical trials. This class of drugs is designed to inhibit the PCSK9 protein to allow for more cholesterol to be removed through the liver. Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Alnylam also have experimental PCSK9 drugs in the works, as does Lipitor’s maker Pfizer.
Whether this new class of drugs will prove to be safer than widely used statins is still yet to be determined. If all goes well, this new class of drugs could have a good chance of raking in the big bucks.
“I think we can say that the industry has responded extremely quickly to the class’ potential, which could translate into billions of dollars in annual sales,” Chatsko says.
Source: The Motley Fool