Skip to comments.Drugs for 'good' cholesterol fail tests
Posted on 03/26/2007 12:25:44 PM PDT by Nachum
NEW ORLEANS -- The hot new strategy of trying to prevent heart disease by raising good cholesterol had more setbacks Monday as new studies showed that experimental drugs didn't work and also had safety problems.
The news follows Pfizer Inc.'s abandonment in December of an $800 million investment in torcetrapib, the leading contender in this class of drugs, because it raised the risk of heart attacks and deaths.
Heart specialists have been anxious to know whether the problems extend to all such drugs and doom this approach.
"A lot of people think it's the next big thing, and we'll need to understand what went wrong with torcetrapib to move forward," said Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic heart specialist who is president of the American College of Cardiology.
The new studies, reported at the group's conference, gave a mixed answer. The Pfizer drug seems uniquely risky, but other drugs have problems, too.
And even though they and the Pfizer drug raised HDL good cholesterol as intended, that made no difference in the odds of heart attacks or deaths, or key measures of cholesterol buildup in arteries.
Doctors long have focused on lowering LDL, or bad cholesterol, to cut heart attack risk. Statins, sold as Lipitor and Zocor and also in generic form, lower LDL, which ferries fats from food into the bloodstream.
But many statin users suffer heart attacks anyway, so doctors have been trying to boost HDL, or good cholesterol - which transports fat from the blood to the liver to be disposed of - to further lower risk.
An extended-release niacin drug called Niaspan, sold by Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc., does this. But it can cause a prickly hot sensation called flushing that some people find intolerable. Pfizer, Merck & Co. and Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG are testing drugs that boost HDL in a novel way.
On Monday, scientists reported the results of several studies on torcetrapib. In one, the drug boosted HDL by 61 percent, but trends in death, hospitalization and heart attacks "are all going in the wrong direction," Nissen said.
An experimental diabetes drug by Eli Lilly and Co. that is 10,000 times more potent than fibrates, a current cholesterol treatment, also proved disappointing. The new drug raised HDL but also raised the risk of kidney, heart and other serious problems, Nissen reported.
Finally, infusions of a reconstituted form of HDL developed by CSL Ltd., an Australian company, made no big difference in the burden of artery buildups in a study led by Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif of the Montreal Heart Institute.
In several of these studies there were hints of some improvements in less important measures of artery buildup, which provides "a glimmer of hope for future development of this class of drugs," Dr. Alan Tall of Columbia University writes in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.
That journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association published several of the new studies.
"The bar has been raised a lot for this entire class, but I do not think we can abandon this entire approach," Nissen said.
If Baycol had been the first statin tested and research had stopped after safety problems emerged, there wouldn't even be this class of drugs, he noted. Baycol, sold by Bayer AG, was withdrawn from the market in 2001 after reports of a severe and sometimes fatal muscle disorder.
Raw oatmeal(over your cereal) and niacin work great.
Sometimes I think that Cholesterol is an indicator, but not a cause, particularly "good" cholesterol. So anything that just re-jiggers the "good" cholesterol level, without dealing with underlying problems, is not going to do any good at all.
And the side effects of some of these drugs are really brutal.
It is a proxy indicator of health. I have no idea how good it is as an actual indicator of health, and suspect it to be nonsense/an excuse to sell statins. If some Freeper could post up some correlations between cholesterol level and heart attacks or other morbidity then that would be helpful.
Correlation is not cause, though...
Absolutely. But you've got to have correlation unless it's anthropogenic global warming (or another suspiciously modern piece of science that has a get-out-of-logic-free card). So if anybody has such a graph handy that would be of great interest :0)
I was already thinking about the ads before it was cancelled.
Torcetrapib, when not eating like s$%t and getting your ass off the couch isn't an option.....
Really good and good for you.
Keeps well too, gets very custardy and can be used in other recipes.
Exercise, squats and pushups done properly work even better. A person doesn't have to do that many either.
I believe the LDL/plaque link is firmly established, and also the FACT that LDL levels in the basement (around 30) quite often are proven in practice to reduce the size of plaque formations in cardiac and cerebral arteries.
Since it is the physical restriction of blood flow that causes tissue infarcts, I'd use extreme caution in d/c'ing a statin that has lowered fasting LDL levels. And equal caution in attempting to raise HDL, based on the present article.
True about the exercise, good point.
I can't stand oatmeal anyway but raw. Don't usually get that picky about food, but raw is it for me and oatmeal. And it has to be whole oat. none of that steel cut or minute oats garbage. ;o) But the molasses did sound good.
CO2 rises before HDL ...
I got caught up in the muscle damage side affect of statins, but stopped taking them before permanent damage occured. People on those drugs(lipitor, lovastatin to name two)need to be very careful and monitor themselves cafefully.
Has anyone heard anything about Vytorin? That's what my doctor has me on. Since I've been on it, the cholestoral has gone from around 300 to 135, but I don't like it and have not felt all that good since being on it. Tired all the time, etc. The doctor claims that Vytorin helps with stoping existing cholestoral from braking loose and causing problems. I've been tempted to stop taking it.....but not sure of the effect.
This cholesterol talk and your tag line gave me an idea. Since life is carbon-based, and AlGore wants to limit carbon; it would seem that he also needs to limit life. Maybe they need to come up with tests that will identify good carbon and bad carbon, so we can determine which life to go after. I doubt they will let it out, but I have a feeling them leftist-commie-liberals are jam-packed full of the bad carbon...
I read where red yeast rice was a "natural" statin, and so, some people had the same side effects that statins cause. If not true, I'd try it. What dose do you use?
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