Cholesterol lowering drug could help patients unable to take statins

Priority Review for Janssen’s Invokana
Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky

A new class of oral cholesterol-lowering drug could help patients unable to take statins due to side effects.

The findings come from the largest study to date to test the effectiveness and safety of bempedoic acid, an oral medication – yet to be approved in Europe – which inhibits the body’s ability to create the building blocks of cholesterol.

The research, published the New England Journal of Medicine, reports on findings from more than 2,200 patients and is the first to measure the safety and effectiveness of the new treatment against placebo in patients with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

According to the group behind the study, the cholesterol-lowering treatment could be added to patients’ existing drug regimens as well as providing an option for people who are unable to tolerate statins due to side effects such as muscle pain or bad interactions with other medications.

Professor Kausik Ray, from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, who led the study, said: “We know that reducing your cholesterol levels is key to cutting the risk of heart attack and stroke, particularly if you already have established heart disease.

“Our latest study shows that 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 to further reduce their cholesterol levels and thus potentially cut their risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

Esperion Therapeutics, the US pharmaceutical company behind the drug is seeking a licence to market the drug this year in Europe and the US.