(Padma Nagappan/ Everyday Health) — Statins like Lipitor and Crestor are widely used as the first line of defense in treating high cholesterol, but not everyone can take them. Muscle pain is the most common side effect, and some patients can also experience inflammation in the liver, increased blood sugar levels that could lead to type 2 diabetes, and loss of memory.
A new drug that could become available soon, if approved in the United States and Europe, represents a potential alternative. Bempedoic acid is a novel oral drug that could be taken instead of statins or in conjunction with them, depending on the patient. It blocks a key enzyme made by the body to build cholesterol, and since it can’t leave the liver once it’s activated, it can’t cause muscle pain.
In a study of 2,230 people drawn from the United States, Canada, and Europe, the drug lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 18 percent after three months. The research was published in March 2019 in The New England Journal of Medicine, and is the first to measure the safety and effectiveness of the drug when compared with placebo in patients with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. (…)