July 27, 2015 / 1:06 PM / 4 years ago

Lilly continues test of HDL cholesterol drug, on panel's advice

July 27 (Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co on Monday said it would continue a large study of its high-profile experimental drug to raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, acting on the recommendation of a data monitoring committee.

The independent panel of scientific advisors made its recommendation after taking an interim look at data from the Phase III study of the medicine, called evacetrapib, and assessing whether the trial had potential of attaining its primary goals, Lilly said. Such reviews are called futility analyses.

Lilly said it expects to complete the 12,095-patient study, called ACCELERATE, in 2016.

Evacetrapib is meant to sharply raise HDL cholesterol, while lowering LDL cholesterol, and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. If it is approved and successful, the drug could capture blockbuster sales, industry experts believe.

A similar treatment from Pfizer Inc called torcetrapib was scrapped in 2006 after safety problems arose, including deaths associated with the medicine. Pfizer had hoped its drug would capture annual sales of $10 billion and transform treatment of patients with heart disease.

The failure of torcetrapib has dampened some of the earlier excitement about such drugs, which work by blocking a protein called CETP. But the potentially better apparent safety of Lilly’s drug has kept its drug on investor radar screens.

Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Alden Bentley

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