If GlaxoSmithKline can challenge Merck to a head-to-head trial (Cervarix versus Gardasil), then AstraZeneca can throw down the gauntlet before Pfizer. In this case, the products in question are statins--AstraZeneca's Crestor and Pfizer's Lipitor. And the study, dubbed Saturn, will compare the two for their ability to decrease progression or induce regression of atherosclerosis over a two-year period. By the time the results are in, Lipitor will be going off patent, and the still-protected Crestor will need a performance edge to tout against cheap, copycat Lipitors.
Who knows, maybe the gamble will pay off. Maybe Crestor will trounce Lipitor and everyone at AstraZeneca will dance joyfully around the exec who came up with the idea for this trial. But the risks are considerable. For a cautionary tale, just consider Merck and Schering-Plough's roll of the Vytorin dice. Presumably, however, AstraZeneca won't hold back the trial results if they don't look good. At least we hope not.
- see this release from AstraZeneca
- read the article at MarketWatch