And what is the drugmaker's ceo cautious about? The eye-popping assumptions that Crestor sales will skyrocket, pun intended, now that the widely hyped Jupiter study found that cholesterol pill reduced the risk of cardiovascular death and heart attacks by 44 percent in people with low LDL cholesterol levels compared with patients on a placebo.
"We've seen a flurry of estimates from analysts about the commercial impact of Jupiter, some of them pretty bullish, reflecting a view that there will be a near term, dramatic shift in medical practice," he told journalists on a conference call. "I would urge caution when forecasting the speed of such changes in medical practice."
Why so sobering? Well, the Jupiter study measured a protein called CRP, which is used to gauge arterial inflammation, but there is controversy over its reliability and, consequently, some uncertainty whether docs will rely on CRP. AstraZeneca doesn't yet have FDA approval to promote its pill for people with high CRP. Then, there's the debate over the cost of giving an expensive pill to a wide swath of the population.
"For all the excitement," Brennan says, "we need to remind ourselves that we are only at the starting gate. The full future potential for treating patients with elevated levels of this marker is unclear at this time."