New and more powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs are on the way. But are they the life-saving breakthrough enthusiastic news stories have been suggesting? The latest post on HealthInsightUK.org tells how there is no evidence yet that they do anything other than lower cholesterol. But is that enough to keep you safe from heart disease?
According to seasoned statin watcher Dr Malcolm Kendrick almost certainly not. The major trial that was supposed to prove this once and for all, which involved 18,ooo people and went on for six years, only managed to squeeze out tiniest benefit. Read his back story on what has really been going on in what promises to be the next battle of the blockbusters. Son of statins: how the new arrivals narrowly missed disaster. Fifty people would have to take the drug involved for six years for one to benefit.
Among the other revelations is one about how common side effects from statins are. You may remember this was at the heart of a heated debate over statins in the summer. In fact senior statin researcher laid into researchers and the British Medical Journal for suggesting they might be higher than his research suggested.
His research using commercial trials found it was around 1% while the other researchers and clinicians claimed it was close to 20%. But with a new breed of cholesterol lowering drugs on the way experts are saying that the number of “statin intolerant” people showing up at a top clinic in the US is way above even that.
For instance Dr Patrick Moriarty director of clinical pharmacology at the University of Kansas Medical Center told the journal Cardiovascular Business last month that as many as half of the patients who present at his clinic are statin intolerant.