Citing patient safety, Pfizer said in a statement that it is terminating all clinical tests of torcetrapib and its plans to bring the drug to market. The company said it is asking doctors participating in studies of torcetrapib to tell patients to stop taking the drug immediately.The reason was too many deaths in the torcetrapib plus Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) arm of the trial, compared to Liptor alone.
The company said that 82 patients taking a combination of torcetrapib and Lipitor died, compared with only 51 deaths among those taking Lipitor alone. Pfizer said the study cast no doubt on the safety and effectiveness of Lipitor.With such a large clinical trial, the excess deaths in the combination treatment arm of this trial could not go unnoticed.
As painful as it must have been, Pfizer did the right thing. They will feel the sting in their stock price over the short term, but in the long term, they saved many more lives with their bold decision and will survive to develop another blockbuster drug another day.