A new cholesterol-lowering drug could offer hope for both people who are unable to take statins due to the side effects and for people who statins are ineffective.
An international study suggests the drug, called bempedoic acid, helps lower cholesterol in people who continue to have high levels despite taking statins. It is thought that it can also be used for people who are unable to take statins because of the associated side-effects.
Publishing their research in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers say they have asked UK and US drug regulators to consider approving the pill for widespread use.
Bempedoic acid works by blocking an enzyme in the body that is used to produce cholesterol.
For the study, over 1,000 people with cardiovascular disease or a genetic cholesterol condition were given bempedoic acid in addition to their usual cholesterol-lowering medication. About 700 other study participants were given a placebo.
After just three months, the group taking bempedoic acid had 17% less bad cholesterol than the group receiving the dummy medication.
Speaking about the findings of the research, Prof Kausik Ray, from Imperial College London, said: “Bempedoic acid could be another addition to the arsenal of cholesterol lowering treatments available to patients.
“What we have is a new class of drug that could be given to patients who are already taking statins and could help them further reduce their cholesterol levels and thus potentially cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes.”
Bad cholesterol remains one of the main risk factors for heart attacks and strokes across the world.