US giant Pfizer saw heavy trading in its shares again on Friday as the implications of its third-quarter results and scrapped guidance for 2006/7 set in [[21/10/05b]]. Meanwhile, investors also appear to be jittery after a Pfizer research official told Reuters that the big hope in its pipeline – a compound combining torcetrapib with its blockbuster lipid-lowerer Lipitor (atorvastatin) – could face another two to three years of clinical trials.

Pfizer is investing some $800 million dollars in the Phase III programme for Lipitor/ torcetrapib as part of its bid to reach the market ahead of rivals also battling to develop a drug that both raises the cardioprotective HDL-cholesterol and cuts the bad LDL-cholesterol [[20/10/04f]]. Investors have been banking on Pfizer getting the new combo approved before Lipitor loses its patent protection in 2011 – and the US giant sees its annual income of $11 billion a year hacked by generic copies – but the researcher said it will take another year to conduct ultrasound trials to identify whether individuals taking Lipitor/ torcetrapib lay down less fatty plaque in their arteries. He also cautioned that if drug regulators require survival and morbidity data – ie. to determine whether patients taking Lipitor/ torcetrapib live longer and suffer less ill health - then these would “take a couple of years longer.”

Although buoyed by a recent positive decision in the UK, which found in favour of Pfizer in a patent case over Lipitor, the investment community is awaiting the outcome of a similar case in the USA, expected by year-end [[13/10/05a]].