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New drugs to help lower cholesterol

Here at Laterlife we have been following the discussions on statins for a long time, reporting on the continuing argument over their overall benefit against possible bad side effects.

Now there are some new developments that may offer an alternative to statins.

You probably haven’t heard of Repatha yet, but this recently approved drug removes “bad” LDL cholesterol more powerfully than existing drugs. It is not available on the NHS – yet although is expected to be available within the year. But it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency and stocks will be available in the UK shortly for private patients.


Amgen headquarters in California

Repatha is a brand name for evolocumag and has been developed by Amgen, a multinational biopharmaceutical company based in California. It is the world’s largest independent biotechnology company and their executive vice president of Research Sean E Harper, MD, says they are excited about the progress of Repatha.

"Data from key clinical studies have shown that Repatha significantly reduces LDL cholesterol in patients who have not been able to lower their LDL cholesterol through diet and statins alone,” he said.

Repatha is part of a new class of drugs that block a substance that interferes with the liver's ability to remove bad cholesterol. In clinical trials, it reduced the levels of bad LDL cholesterol by 55 per cent. It is expected to be available to NHS patients within the year.


Praluent

Another new drug developed to fight bad cholesterol is Praluent. Also known as alirocumab, it has been developed by Regeneron, a leading science-based biopharmaceutical company based in New York together with Sanofi, an intergrated global healthcare leader. In clinical trials Praluent reduced bad cholesterol by 40 per cent, with even higher levels when taken by patients already taking statins.

One of the key problems for people our age is that, while we now know that high levels of bad cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, do these modern drugs clear earlier damage or simply prevent us from building up more.

Bad cholesterol is part of a process that helps build plaque in our arteries which slowly blocks their flow. There have been some reports that statins can help to actually clear plaque out of fat-clogged heart arteries. If this is the case, then possibly these new drugs may be equally or even more effective at this.

Laterlife will keep researching and keep you posted of new developments.

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