Cholesterol Drug Slashes Heart Attack, Stroke Risk in Initial Tests

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redbloodcellsAn investigational cholesterol-reducing drug lowered patients’ levels of bad cholesterol by about 62 percent after six months, and halved their risk of premature death, stroke, and heart attack versus a placebo, researchers report.

The drug, calledalirocumab, was developed by Sanofi, Paris, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, Tarrytown, NY. The companies are encouraged by the findings, but say a bigger trial is necessary to affirm the results.

Alirocumab is part of a new class of drugs dubbed PCSK9 inhibitors.These medicines target the millions of patients for whom statins, such as Lipitor (Pfizer) and Crestor (AstraZeneca Plc) don’t work.

The PCSK9 inhibitor reduces LDL cholesterol by thwarting the PCSK9 enzyme, which, if unrestrained, can result in increased fat components in the blood. Too much LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque, a thick, brittle deposit that can block arteries and make them less elastic, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The company plans to seek priority FDA review for alirocumab before the year is out. Sales for this drug could climb into the billions of dollars.

Odyssey Long Term, an ongoing double-blind trial encompassing 2,341 patients, is anticipated to conclude in 2015.

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