The cholesterol drug that outperforms statins

The cholesterol drug that outperforms statins

Excitement about the drug has been building over the last three years, with scientists predicting it had the power to "switch off" heart disease.

The research has also shown a 15 percent decrease in cases of hospitalization due to unbalanced angina, heart attacks, revascularization, cardiovascular death and strokes.

The results of the large global trial of a drug on 27,000 patients means the drug could soon be used by millions, reports the foreign media.

The results are rooted in the drug's ability to cut levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, which furs arteries and causes heart problems. But, despite some impressive-sounding numbers, the data may not be enough to persuade payers to change their coverage much, analysts said.

Prof Peter Sever, from Imperial College London - which led the United Kingdom branch of the study, said: "This is one of the most important trials of cholesterol-lowering since the first statin trial, published 20 years ago".

In the study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at the protective effect of evolocumab on patients in 49 countries, with a history of atherosclerotic vascular disease, who were already taking statins to reduce their cholesterol.

Half of the patients were asked to take optimal quantity of statins along with Repatha. This includes offering a refund on the drug for any patient who has a heart attack or stroke while using it. The benefits were seen across all subtypes of patients, even in those who started with low levels of cholesterol.

How Effective Is Repatha In Lowering Cholesterol Levels?

Repatha, like other PCSK9 inhibitors, do a very good job lowering cholesterol.

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Heart disease and stroke are the number one killers worldwide, taking 15 million lives in 2015, according to the World Health Organization. The FDA approved Repatha and Regeneron Pharma's (REGN) Praluent on that basis.

"A promising new approach is blocking the action of PCSK9, a molecule which reduces the breakdown of LDL-cholesterol in the liver".

In a trial of more than 27,000 patients, researchers found that taking monthly or twice-monthly injections of the medication, called evolocumab, on top of statins could cut cholesterol levels by nearly 60 per cent on average in patients with an underlying risk of cardiovascular disease.

Overall 325,000 in Britain are eligible, although only a few have yet been given the drugs. Kaiser Health News noted that insurers aren't quite sure whether they would cover the drug, citing issues with its price and its then-unproven benefits.

Price could provide a stumbling block however. Repatha comes for a whopping $14,000 for a year. But in the Mizuho Securities conference call, participants agreed that a reasonable estimate of the direct hospital cost of treating a stroke is around $20,000 to $40,000, while the total lifetime costs are about $100,000 for an elderly patient, and up to $500,000 for a young patient.

Professor Naveed Sattar, an expert in metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: 'Can we realistically afford to extend the guidelines to bring these drugs to more people?

"With this trial, we now have definitive data that by adding evolocumab to a background of statin therapy, we can significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes and do so safely", said lead author Marc S. Sabatine from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

British Heart Foundation medical director Nilesh Samani said the trial was a significant advance.

Sean Harper, executive vice president at Amgen, added: 'This is a game changer for high-risk patients'.

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