An experimental drug from Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has shown a promising result in the effective lowering of the “bad” cholesterol.
According to the researchers, the new drug which is currently in the experimental stage has effectively reduced the bad cholesterols even when it is taken once every four weeks, instead of the regular dose of every two weeks.
This under trial drug has been named alirocumab. It belongs to the category of an emerging class of injectable drugs that helps in blocking a protein called PCSK9.
PCSK9 is a naturally occurring protein that inhibits the liver from expelling ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. And the drugs that lower their bad cholesterol production are called PCSK9 inhibitors.
These drugs are aimed at combating the bad cholesterols of those patients whose cholesterol levels do not drop significantly despite the high use of statins, like Pfizer Inc’s Lipitor. Moreover, alirocumab is also meant for those people who are unable to tolerate the strong doses of statins.
Sanofi SA and Regeneron are highly banking on the experimental drug as they wish to book their promising hold in the fierce race with Amgen and Pfizer Inc in bringing their PCSK9 inhibitor to the market.
The biotech drugs can be a large market worth billions in the future if they are also able to remarkably lower the risks of heart attacks and deaths as statins have.
In order to fasten the review process of alirocumab, Sanofi and Regeneron have paid USD 67.5 million to BioMarin Pharmaceutical for a voucher.
In a study, alirocumab was tested for better results in 803 people with high cholesterol levels and a moderate-to-high heart risk. The researchers gave a 300 mg dose of the drug in every four weeks in comparison to a placebo. More than two-thirds of the patients were also given statins.
Another study evaluated alirocumab in 233 patients with high cholesterol levels and a high heart risk. The study also included such patients who had a poor history of using statins. In the trial, the researchers compared a 150 mg dose of the drug that was administered every four weeks against a placebo.
A third trial showed alirocumab could lower the heart risk by 50 percent. Another study proved that the number of patients, with high-risk of being unable to tolerate statins, getting their “bad” cholesterol levels down with the help of alirocumab was 10 times more than Zetia by Merck & Co.
The stock of Regeneron gained 1.3 percent at USD 408.41 in early trading on Friday at the Nasdaq. On the other hand, Sanofi’s shares declined three percent in Paris.