Supercharging statins

Statins have become the “gold standard”
for the treatment of high cholesterol—and
a new type of drug known as PCSK9
inhibitors could make them even better. In
a recent study, researchers split a group of
968 volunteers into two groups: one tak
Statins have become the “gold standard”
for the treatment of high cholesterol—and
a new type of drug known as PCSK9
inhibitors could make them even better. In
a recent study, researchers split a group of
968 volunteers into two groups: one taking
only a statin, the other combining the
drug with evolocumab, a PCSK9 inhibitor.
After 18 months, the team measured
the participants’ levels of LDL, or “bad
cholesterol.” Anything below 100 milligrams
per deciliter of blood is considered
excellent, and those who were taking only
a statin averaged an impressive 93 mg/dL.
But those taking a combination of the two
drugs averaged an astonishing 36 mg/dL
of LDL—an ultralow level generally seen
only in babies. “In a sense,” says cardiologist
Elliott Antman, who wasn’t associated
with the study, “you are turning back
the cardiovascular clock.” These striking
reductions came with an added benefit,
reports Reuters.com: greater declines in
dangerous plaques that had accumulated
in the patients’ arteries. Plaques shrank in
two-thirds of those taking both drugs, but
in only half of those taking a statin alone.
The only downside of PCSK9 inhibitors is
their cost: With some prescriptions priced
at $14,000 a year, most insurers are refusing
to pay for them.


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