AstraZeneca R&D chief Mene Pangalos (via YouTube)

As­traZeneca and Io­n­is claim a PC­SK9 win, but will it mat­ter in a crowd­ed mar­ket?

The first gen­er­a­tion of PC­SK9 block­ers was, rough­ly speak­ing, a com­mer­cial dis­as­ter for their de­vel­op­ers, Sanofi and Am­gen.

Al­though they suc­cess­ful­ly low­ered bad cho­les­terol and pre­vent­ed heart at­tacks and strokes by a new mech­a­nism, in­sur­ers were un­will­ing to pay the high cost of the med­ica­tions and pa­tients seemed less than en­thu­si­as­tic about tak­ing in­jec­tions every two weeks.

The re­sult has been a fren­zied, mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar search for drugs that can block the pro­tein, a cen­tral node in the pro­duc­tion of LDL cho­les­terol, with more con­ve­nient dos­ing. On Mon­day, As­traZeneca claimed it had cleared a ma­jor hur­dle, re­leas­ing da­ta on an ex­per­i­men­tal drug that’s dosed on­ly once per month.

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