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Health Team

Trials underway for promising new cholesterol drug

Posted March 18, 2015

Researchers say a new cholesterol-lowering drug is showing promise.

A study published in the online New England Journal of Medicine says evolocumab, which has the brand name Repatha, works differently than common cholesterol drugs such as Lipitor by blocking harmful protein in the liver.

The liver is able to work harder on removing harmful LDL cholesterol from the blood. LDL cholesterol leads to the buildup of plaque in arteries.

Dr. Joel Schneider, a cardiologist with North Carolina Heart & Vascular, will conduct a trial for the drug that will follow patients over the next five years.

“This is the first medicine beyond statins that have really shown significant reduction in LDL cholesterol,” he said. “It may be the first medication that has shown a benefit in reducing heart events. So, it's a new horizon - it's a new approach to deal with patients who have heart disease. I think that’s why it’s very exciting.”

The study is small, with about 4,000 patients who were followed for a year. Side effects, including temporary cognitive problems, confusion and memory problems, were reported in 1 to 2 percent of patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will look at those side effects in deciding whether to approve the medicine.

Anyone interested in the drug trial can visit the website or call 919-350-8317.

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