Analyst says Crestor likely failed dialysis trial

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc's AZN.L cholesterol drug Crestor likely failed to show benefit in a clinical trial assessing its use in dialysis patients, a leading analyst said on Wednesday.

Findings from the so-called Aurora study will be presented on March 30 at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual meeting.

“Our understanding is that Aurora may have failed to show a benefit,” Tim Anderson of Sanford Bernstein said in a research note.

AstraZeneca said it could not comment on the study ahead of the ACC presentation. “We are not in a position to confirm the results of the study,” a spokesman said.

The study, one of a series conducted by AstraZeneca to widen the use of its blockbuster medicine, has been analysing outcomes for kidney patients on dialysis given Crestor versus placebo.

Crestor has shown some remarkable benefits in other trials, including last year’s Jupiter study which produced dramatic results in patients with excellent cholesterol but elevated levels of a protein associated with heart disease.

But Anderson said failure in the Aurora study would not be surprising.

A previous trial called 4D, with Pfizer's PFE.N Lipitor, also failed in a similar way and Anderson said Merck MRK.N and Schering-Plough's SGP.N Vytorin could be the next to fail when results from the Sharp trial are released in 2010.

“Having penetrated more traditional cardiovascular patient populations, drug companies have pushed to find new patient populations -- like those with severe kidney disease -- for their products. The outer limits of who might benefit next may have been reached,” he said. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler)