Lilly optimistic on new statin; analysts, not so much

With great fanfare, Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is launching a new ... statin drug? When there are so many competitors already? Yes, it's true: The company is inaugurating Livalo, a cholesterol remedy it's selling in partnership with Japan's Kowa. 

Lilly says that Livalo is metabolized differently from other statins, so it may be more tolerable for some people who can't abide the side effects of other statins, particularly those who take many different prescription drugs. Trials supporting Livalo's approval included comparisons to other statins, including simvastatin (brand name Zocor) and pravastatin (Pravachol). "There's lots of side effects to existing medication and Lilly thinks they have a better mousetrap," University of Indianapolis professor Matt Will tells WXIN-TV.

"While there are some very good medicines in this category today, based on the number of patients who are untreated and who fail to stay on therapy tells us there is a good opportunity here," Lilly chief John Lechleiter (photo) tells the Indianapolis Star.

But analysts are skeptical. "I think it's going to take a lot of work to interest physicians in a new statin," Miller Tabak's Les Funtleyder tells the paper. "It's going to have to work much better, or be much cheaper, or have fewer side effects than anything else on the market." It will be cheaper than AstraZeneca's Crestor at least; Lilly says it's pricing Livalo at $3.30 per tablet, wholesale, 15 percent less than Crestor.

- see the Lilly release
- get the story in the IndyStar
- check out Pharmalot's take
- read the WXIN coverage

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