Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have come up with an experimental drug which can help lower the amount of bad cholesterol in blood by as much as 30% if taken only once every four weeks instead of the two week interval as originally planned. The drug is called alirocumab and though the manufacturers have not yet shed light about its expected price, analysts at Barclays believe that using it could cost upto $6,000 per year.
PCSK9, a naturally occurring protein in the body, does not allow LDL cholesterol discharge from the liver to the rest of the body. Alirocumab works by blocking this protein when injected into the patient. Usually drugs to control the level of PCSK9 in the body are administered only to patients on whom earlier treatments have not worked or whose bodies reject other drugs.
This drug when tried on patients diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia or high levels of blood cholesterol and varying degrees of cardiovascular risk yielded positive and encouraging results. The drug has been through two Phase-III trials to judge its efficiency- Odyssey Choice I and Odyssey Choice II. While the Odyssey Choice I was carried out over 803 patients, the Odyssey ChoiceII involved only 233 patients.
Side effects associated with widespread usage of its included headache, upper respiratory tract infection, fatigue and nausea. Also, earlier result showed that the drug could pose the risk of heart related conditions to patients.
Overall, the drug which acts as a PCSK9 inhibitor proved to me more effective than any other cholesterol lowering drug available at the moment. “The trials have demonstrated that the number of high cardiovascular risk patients whose cholesterol levels reduced by alirocumab was ten times bigger than those who were treated with Zetia – Merick & Co. drug,” it was confirmed.
Joseph Pantginis from Roth Capital estimates the drug to generate billions of dollars worth of revenue for Sanofi and Regeneron since nearly 36 million Americans are eligible for the drug by 2016.