Merck is damning the torpedoes and going ahead with its CETP program. A committee has reviewed the data so far for futility, and recommended no changes, so (as FierceBiotech says), they’re pretty much locked in now for the rest of the study, which finishes up in 2017. A mere 30,000 patients (!) are involved, which is what you’re facing when you go for the huge cardiovascular targets.
As far as I know, the other competitor left in this . . .well, I was going to say “race”, but what I actually mean is “demolition derby”, is Amgen. They recently bought a small company (for $300 million upfront) with a CETP compound of their own, which really takes an odd mixture of sunny optimism and complete sang-froid at this point. The most recent CETP vehicle to be towed off the field was Eli Lilly’s, and the wreckage from their efforts and many others is still scattered all over the place.
When talking about programs like this, though, I like to mention that despite deals costing in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and despite multiyear clinical trials with tens of thousands of patients, we all do have to remember that it only takes $43 million dollars to develop a drug. Amgen and Merck need to keep this in mind; surely it’ll help settle their nerves a bit to realize that they’re not spending as much money as they imagine. Not to worry!
Update: OK, let’s have some fun with that number. $43 million divided by 30,000 patients is
$143 1433 per head. If the trial runs until mid-2017, then (since it began in 2011), to have spend $43 million on just this one trial – ignoring all the others, ignoring all the other R&D costs until now – Merck will need to have spent about sixty cents per patient per day. I think that their expenses might be running a bit higher than that. . .