The world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has come out fighting against trial results from Merck & Co and Schering-Plough, which suggest their cholesterol-lowering agent, Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin), is superior to Lipitor (atorvastatin) [[09/03/05a]], with its own set of data that further boost the profile of its top-selling drug.

The result of the five-year study, known as TNT, suggest that high doses of Pfizer’s blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug lower cholesterol to well below recommended levels and cut the number of heart attacks and strokes compared to lower doses of the multi-billion dollar-a-year drug. The trial included 10,000 patients with coronary heart disease and high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Patients who received 80mg doses of Lipitor had 22% fewer cardiovascular events, including CHD death, non-fatal heart attacks, resuscitated cardiac arrest, and fatal or non-fatal strokes, compared to patients who took 10mg of Lipitor. In addition, patients treated with high-dose Lipitor had 25% fewer fatal or non-fatal strokes compared to those receiving the 10mg dose.

CHD is the leading cause of death in the USA, and the majority of Americans with elevated cholesterol – a leading risk factor for heart attacks – are not at their recommended goal levels. Since its introduction nine years ago, Lipitor has become the most prescribed cholesterol-lowering therapy in the world, generating annual sales in excess of $10 billion dollars.