The purpose of this study was to evaluate the value of model-based, quantitative decision making during the development of gemcabene, a novel lipid-altering agent. The decisions were driven by a model of the likely clinical profile of gemcabene in comparison with its competitors, such as 3-hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins), the cholesterol absorption inhibitor ezetimibe, and their combination. Dose-response models were developed for the lipid effects (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C] and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol); adverse effects, such as persistent alanine aminotransferase elevation and myalgia; tolerability issues, such as headache; and risk reduction for coronary artery disease-related events for 5 statins, ezetimibe, gemcabene, and their combinations. The integrated model was based on the joint analysis of publicly available summary-level data and proprietary patient-level data and included information from almost 10,000 patients. The model was made available and accessible to the development team by using the Pharsight Drug Model Explorer model visualization technology. The modeling greatly enhanced the understanding of the clinical profile of gemcabene when given alone or in combination with a statin. The interaction between statins and gemcabene for the LDL-C lowering effect was found to be significantly different from the interaction between statins and ezetimibe. Ezetimibe was found to have a pharmacological-independent interaction resulting in additional LDL-C lowering over the entire statin dose range. The gemcabene interaction was found to be less than independent, resulting in almost no additional LDL-C lowering at high-statin doses, although the drug has a significant LDL-C effect when administered alone or in combination with a low dose of a statin. The quick availability of the model after completion of the first phase II trial in the target patient population and the ability of the team to explore the potential clinical efficacy and safety of gemcabene in comparison with alternative treatment options facilitated a quick decision to stop development.
Author(s): Jaap Mandema, David Hermann, Wenping Wang, Tim Sheiner, Mark Milad, Rebecca Bakker-Arkema, Daniel Hartman