The Big Gamble of CETP Inhibitors

Merck has invested a substantial amount of money on the CETP inhibitor anacetrapib. Chemist and veteran pharma blogger Derek Lowe suspects that the company might as well have plunked the money down in a casino.

In a provocative new post, Lowe wonders if big pharma, in its desperation, has abandoned rational research in favor of, essentially, gambling. He notes that CETP is “a drug target that has incinerated a lot of money over the years” and wonders whether any of the compounds will “ever make it as a drug?” The failure of past CETP inhibitors, torcetrapib (Pfizer) and dalceptrapib (Roche), along with the recent failure of Tredaptive (Merck), “illustrate how little we know about this area [HDL].”

Read the rest of the post on Forbes.



  1. It is the blockbuster mentality. Only BB candidates can get developed. A $200MM drug is too small to develop, so swing for the fences on every pitch.

  2. I really wish industry (e.g. the Atkins foundation, or manufacturers like Nabisco) would spend some money to study nutritional approaches to preventing vascular disease in large clinical trial populations. Pharma and academia puts all their eggs in the same basket – drugs. These molecules tweak individual enzymes or receptors within a whole cascade of mechanisms, often with off-target effects. The type of patient who needs a drug like this could be rescued readily by very close attention to their lifestyle. But I guess it’s easier to pop a new blockbuster than to modify the way you eat. That is a very sad commentary on what our society has become!

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