New Alternative to Statins in Reducing Cholesterol Levels

On Wednesday, researchers reported a new kind of cholesterol-fighting drug which was well-tolerated and resulted in “considerably lower” LDL levels after a year-long trial.

As a daily pill, Bempedoic acid would be an option for patients who cannot reduce their levels of LDL with statin therapy, or who do not tolerate statins due to side effects.

After 3 months of experimenting, the levels of LDL in these patients dropped by an average of 20% compared with those who took a placebo. The experiment was financed by Esperion Therapeutics, a major pharmaceutical firm which is seeking approval from the FDA to make Bempedoic acid available in the US.

This drug works in the same way as statins, but with a different area, said Dr. Kausik, the lead author of the study. It helps to block an essential enzyme which makes cholesterol in the body.

“We have conducted many different studies which have revealed that it seems to be a good option. All doctors want to have options since patients do not fit one size” Ray told. “I think it is a great development.”

LDL or low-density lipoprotein makes a huge contribution to fatty accumulation in the arteries, which increases the risks of stroke and heart attack. Around 70 million people in the US have high levels of LDL.

Heart diseases are the leading causes of death for both women and men in the US, and reducing LDL is an important way to minimize these health issues. When exercise and diet don’t work, drugs like statins, which could interfere with the generation of cholesterol, would be the most affordable and simplest treatment. Some popular brands include Crestor, Zocor, and Lipitor, which are among the most prescribed drugs all over the world.

But 10% to 15% of people report some side effects such as cramps, weakness, and muscle pain. Many of them choose to stop taking the drugs.

The new drug cannot leave your liver cells once it is converted into the active form. This means it won’t enter muscles and reduce the risks of these side effects, Ray said. Bempedoic acid is a good option for those who have high risks for heart diseases with high levels of LDL.

“This medicine would help a lot of patients in the US,” said Ray. “We expect that we could help more patients to reduce their levels of LDL to a very healthy and safe one. This is important to ensure good cardiovascular health and prevent heart diseases.”


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