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Cholesterol Drug Fails to Slow Progression of Coronary Disease,,Cleveland Clinic Study Reports

NEW ORLEANS, March 26, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- Cleveland Clinic researchers today report that the drug torcetrapib, despite raising high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) or the "good" cholesterol by more than 60%, did not slow the progression of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries as measured using an ultrasound probe.

Steven Nissen, M.D., Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic and lead investigator of this clinical trial, will present the study on Monday, March 26 at 8:30 a.m. at the of Cardiology's (ACC) 56th Annual Scientific Session. Dr. Nissen is also President of the ACC. The study will be simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

All development of this drug was terminated on Dec. 2, 2006 after the safety board monitoring a separate large clinical outcomes trial reported that torcetrapib increased the risk of death and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

"We found that the torcetrabip/atorvastatin combination markedly increased good cholesterol levels and lowered bad cholesterol in patients. Unfortunately this drug also substantially raised blood pressure and failed to slow the buildup of plaque," Dr. Nissen said. "It is yet to be determined of this failure represents a problem unique to torcetrapib or predicts a lack of efficacy for the entire class of similar drugs. These findings further demonstrate the great difficulty in developing therapies to disrupt the atherosclerotic disease process."

The development of drugs to raise HDL has been a key research priority because, despite lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad") cholesterol with statin drugs, many patients continue to experience heart attacks, stroke or sudden cardiac death.

A total of 1,188 coronary artery disease patients were enrolled in the "Investigation of Lipid Level management using coronary UltraSound To assess Reduction of Atherosclerosis by CET
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