A new drug developed by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceutical cuts down high cholesterol levels but also risk of heart disease. In a total of nine trials, this drug also shows early indications of being able to prevent heart attack and death.
The results of one trial presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Barcelona showed that taking alirocumab alongside a statin slashed levels of harmful LDL cholesterol by 61 per cent in just 24 weeks.
The revolutionary drug uses genetically engineered antibodies which target a protein that helps to keep blood cholesterol levels high.
Leading cardiologists say alirocumab, which is given as an injection every two weeks, could save thousands of lives every year.
Martin Cowie, professor of cardiology at Imperial College London, said alirocumab was “the best news we have had for cholesterol management for perhaps a decade”.
“We need to know longer-term safety data but it looks extremely promising,” he said.
Although millions take statins, many are unable to because of debilitating side-effects. For others, statins do not lower their cholesterol enough. With almost 160,000 deaths each year in the UK from cardiovascular disease, there is a need for new, safe and effective treatments.
The research at the University of Iowa in the US on 3,800 patients showed that in addition to reducing cholesterol, alirocumab protected against heart attacks and stroke – the first non-statin drug to do this.
One study included patients with familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited disease affecting around 120,000 Britons.
Current treatments often do not control their cholesterol adequately, but those given alirocumab with a statin saw it lowered significantly.The firms making alirocumab, Sanofi and Regeneron, have not said how much the new drug could cost, but as it is based on a protein it is likely to be very expensive.
Kausik Ray, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London, said: “Statins are still going to be first-line treatment.
“Where we are likely going to use it is in those who need it most, those who are most likely to have heart attacks or strokes because they have already had them and the current treatments don’t get their cholesterol down low enough or they can’t lower the cholesterol effectively.”
There is only one problem here. For some reason. the advocates of statin-use are reluctant to keep up with current research. The “lipid theory” is now outdated. There is NO study to show that statins cause the extension of life by reducing cholesterol. So, what the heck is going on here?