LONDON: Raising good cholesterol may not cut heart attack risk, says a study that challenges the development of drugs that may generate billions of dollars in sales.
The report, in the U.K. medical journal The Lancet, found that people with a genetic condition that causes high HDL have the same heart-attack risk as the general population. The results come from a computer analysis of 20 studies.
The authors suggested the link found earlier between good cholesterol and lower heart risk may come from more subtle lifestyle factors tied to higher HDL levels.
If so, it brings into question the development of medicines such as Merck’s anacetrapib, an HDL booster that Tony Butler, a Barclay’s Capital analyst in New York, said on May 7 may generate US$4 billion in peak revenue once approved.
"This will have a sobering effect, it would have to," said John LaMattina, a senior partner at PureTech Ventures and former head of research and development at Pfizer Inc.
"HDL has always been a controversial area. You have a question that you have to be willing to commit over a billion dollars in order to get the answer, and that is a very daunting commitment."
Scientists have said HDL works by sweeping the bad form of the fatty substance known as LDL, or bad cholesterol, out of arteries, reducing clogs. The Lancet study analyzed 20,913 heart attack cases and 95,047 control subjects, the report said. (Bloomberg/tw)