The move will intensify competition in this already heated market, because the pill is supposed to raise HDL, or good cholesterol, while also lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol, along with tryglicerides. Simcor, by the way, actually combines simvastatin, the generic name for Zocor, and Niaspan, a drug that Abbott acquired as part of its purchase of Kos Pharmaceuticals.
Given the controversy over Vytorin, the timing for Abbott is advantageous. At the same time, this may augur well for Merck, which hopes to receive FDA approval for its own Cordaptive pill, which also contains niacin. But whether Simcor can do a better job of preventing heart attacks or death than either simvastatin or Niaspan remains to be seen. The two components have separately demonstrated an ability to reduce heart attacks and death, The Wall Street Journal reminds us.
In data given to the FDA, 640 patients were started on simvastatin, then added Niaspan to their regimen, according to Abbott. After 24 weeks, patients experienced a 12 percent decrease in LDL beyond the 7 percent they experienced on simvastatin alone, a 21 percent increase in HDL compared to 8 percent on simvastatin alone, and a 27 percent decrease in triglycerides compared to 15 percent in simvastatin alone.
Abbott says it is currently conducting a study investigating whether Simcor is better than simvastatin or Niaspan alone, but results won't be available until 2011, according to the Journal. The drugmaker also has a study underway to investigate whether Simcor slows down or even reverses clogging in the arteries using an imaging technology similar that that which was used in the Enhance trial that compared Vytonin to its two component drugs, Zetia and Zocor.