After The Full-Download On Lilly’s Shuttered Evacetrapib, What To Make Of Merck’s Anacetrapib CETP Program?

For going on six years now, we have been keeping track of Merck’s CETP cholestoral management candidate program. Kenilworth still has high hopes for its 30,000 person trial, set to wrap up in 2018 — but I think we must candidly suggest that after Roche’s dalcetrapib, and Lilly’s evacetrapib — the odds are growing longer and longer that Merck’s CETP candidate will show a real world CV event or mortality risk reduction benefit. [Here is a link to our initial reporting — on the first disclosures of Lilly’s disappointment, from October 2015 — for more background.]

Even so, these flameouts — they teach us; they advance the course of knowlege. And that is why science — real life science — is hard: one has to do these longitudinal, large studies — to know for certain. And Merck is doing just that. I suppose we should offer respect for the tenacity of their scientists. In any event, here is the MedScape CardioBrief piece, by the estimable Larry Husten, on Lilly’s full results — from the cardio meeting, today:

. . . .Following the crash and burn of torcetrapib in the ILLUMINATE trial and dalcetrapib in the dal-OUTCOMES trial, we now have the full obituary details on a third CETP inhibitor, Lilly’s evacetrapib. The one remaining hope for the class lies with Merck’s anacetrapib, which continues to be studied in the ongoing REVEAL study. . . .

“Here we’ve got an agent that more than doubles the levels of good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol and yet has no effect on clinical events,” said Nicholls, in a press release. “We were disappointed and surprised by the results. . . .”

“The findings continue to challenge the hope that CETP inhibition might successfully address residual CV risk. . . .”

So — let the real, hard and great life science research roll on. We do need it. G’morning, America — on this day, 48 years ago, now — we lost the man on my masthead. Keep a life-affirming thought for all humans of good will today — I know he would. . . .

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