Drug Cuts Cholesterol Beyond What Statins Can Do?
Whether it also prevents heart attacks and strokes isn't known yet, experts say
The researchers treated 307 patients with evolocumab or the widely used Zetia. LDL cholesterol was reduced by up to 56 percent in patients using evolocumab. That was almost a 39 percent larger reduction than Zetia achieved, he said.
"We finally seem to have a good alternative treatment for patients who experience severe side effects to statin therapy. The combination of a robust cholesterol-lowering effect with minimal side effects make evolocumab a promising treatment for those patients not tolerating statin therapy," Stroes said.
Dr. David Friedman, chief of heart failure services at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, N.Y., said reaching LDL cholesterol-lowering goals in high-risk heart patients poses an ongoing challenge.
Evolocumab holds promise, "however, we need to await more outcome-based measures that show an actual reduction in heart attacks and strokes to show the true benefit of evolocumab in the long term," Friedman said.
Another expert, Dr. Tara Narula, associate director of the cardiac care unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed.
"We need more research before we can definitively say that this agent is safe and effective. We don't know how simply lowering LDL cholesterol translates into overall cardiovascular outcomes," she said.
Narula noted that studies of Zetia failed to show a reduction of heart attacks and strokes, even though the drug effectively lowered cholesterol.
"We need to await the results of [a different, ongoing trial] to see if lowering LDL cholesterol lower than standard levels really does translate into reduced cardiovascular events over time. That's the kind of research we need before we change our clinical practice," she said.
Studies presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.