The injectable drug is called alirocumab. It targets a protein called PCSK9 and lowers LDL, which can simply be described as the bad cholesterol in our bodies.
Amgen and Pfizer are developing similar drugs which may be on the market as early as next year, netting the companies millions in profit if approved with patients lining up to lower their chances of heart disease. The study has been named Odyssey Long Term, and it’s still underway with 2,341 patients participating.
There will be a requirement for a larger clinical trial to determine efficacy, but Regeneron is reporting consistent results of LDL reduction in the nine large studies it has done this year. The research came to light back in July, but it was only presented on Sunday in Barcelona at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. Thos participating in the study were less likely to develop serious cardiovascular issues, including heart attacks, cardiac arrest, stroke and chest pain which required hospitalization.
Researchers are understandably optimistic about the trial findings thus far. “To have this result emerge so quickly in this study is very encouraging,” said Jennifer Robinson, the study leader and a cardiologist at the University of Iowa. But the president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Patrick T. O’Gara, has commented that although the results are “biologically plausible” it’s important to exercise caution due to the retrospective nature of the findings.
The best treatment for cholesterol at present is statin treatment, which is pill based. Should alirocumab be approved, it could be combined with this treatment as a bi-monthly injection for maximum effect.Â Alirocumab will be especially attractive to those who can’t take statins because they either don’t work properly, or they have negative side effects.
Big pharmaceutical companies will be working hard over the next year to get the drug approved and to market. And with cardiologists calling it “the best news we’ve had for cholesterol management for a decade,” patients can certainly be hopeful.
(Photo courtesy of Okko Pyykko)
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