New Drug to Lower 'Bad' Cholesterol Shows Promise
Lowering LDL continued...
"It's a little injection in the abdomen, under the skin," Stein says.
The researchers followed the patients for eight more weeks.
All those who got the new biologic lowered their cholesterol below 100.
But only 52% of those who got 80 milligrams of Lipitor but placebo injections lowered their LDL below 100.
"More than nine out of 10 of those who got the new drug lowered their LDL to below 70, regardless of whether the statin dose was 10 or 80 milligrams," Stein says.
Only 17% of those who got the higher dose of Lipitor and placebo injections reduced their LDL levels below 70.
The side effects were similar among the three groups. Some patients reported headache, dizziness, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal problems or musculoskeletal problems.
However, Stein says, the study was fairly short term, "especially for drugs that will likely be taken life-long." And larger studies are needed.
He says it is too early to estimate the cost of the new drug.
He reports consulting fees from Amgen, Adnexus Therapeutics, Genentech, Regeneron, and Sanofi related to PCSK9 inhibitors. His institution has received research funds directly related to PCSK9 clinical trials and lab analysis from Alnylam, Amgen, BMS, Genentech, Sanofi, and Regeneron.
Looking to the Future
Long-term data are needed and critical for further understanding, Gibbons says.
The need to inject the drug may not appeal to some patients, he says. "The inconvenience would be a barrier to many patients, particularly to those who don't have their own transportation."
Researchers need to examine whether the new drug results in fewer heart attacks and strokes.
Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals are recruiting people for additional studies.
Amgen and other companies are also developing PCSK9 protein inhibitor drugs.