AstraZeneca is continuing in its bid to claim market share in the highly competitive world of cholesterol-lowering medications, and yesterday unveiled new data showing its offering Crestor (rosuvastatin) was more effective than Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin) or Merck’s Zocor (simvastatin) in combating elevated cholesterol in high-risk patients.

At the European Atherosclerosis Society Congress meeting in Prague, AstraZeneca reported the results of four studies involving in excess of 4,000 patients with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes or elevated cholesterol. Data from one of these trials, dubbed Mercury II, showed very high risk CHD patients who switched from Zocor or Lipitor to AstraZeneca’s Crestor were more likely to reach cholesterol goals than those who stayed on their standard medication. Specifically, 43% of patients who were switched to Crestor 10mg from Lipitor 10mg achieved goals for ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol compared to 22% who remained on Lipitor. In addition, 40% of those switched to Crestor 10mg from Zocor 20mg reached these goals, versus just 16% who remained on Zocor.

AZ will be hoping these latest data secure it a better position in the eyes of prescribers. Crestor has faced a torrid time since launch after the influential consumer group Public Citizen made repeated calls for the drug to be pulled, citing risks of rhabdomyolysis (muscle weakness) and kidney damage. However, the company is facing a rosier outlook following the recent dismissal of Public Citizen’s petition by the US Food and Drug Administration. In March, the agency claimed Crestor does not pose a risk of muscle toxicity greater than other available statins [[15/03/05b]].