Astrazeneca shares fall on flat Crestor results

By The Associated Press | September 2, 2011 | 12:00 PM EDT

Drugmaker AstraZeneca's big gamble, an attempt to prove its top-selling drug works better than rival cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, has backfired.

A study meant to show AstraZeneca PLC's cholesterol drug Crestor prevents plaque buildup in heart arteries better than Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor shows no clear advantage for Crestor.

Generic Lipitor is set to hit the U.S. market on Nov. 30. Analysts say that result will make it hard for the British drugmaker to argue patients would fare better on its Crestor than on much-cheaper generic Lipitor.

The study compared the drugs in high-risk patients with hardening of the arteries, which can cause strokes or heart attacks.

AstraZeneca released preliminary results Friday. Its U.S. shares fell more than 2 percent.