When GelTex Pharmaceuticals Inc. began its Cholestagel program five years ago, the company said that to be economically and clinically attractive, the non-absorbed cholesterol-binding polymer would have to reduce cholesterol by 18-20 percent at a dose of 2 grams.

The company last week released positive Phase III data that, while statistically significant, don't hit those old dose reduction numbers. Nevertheless, GELX believes it has an approvable, economically attractive and commercially competitive drug that will allow it to gain a foothold in the cholesterol lowering market while it readies an improved second-generation product.