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No more statins: New wonder drug to reduce cholesterol

Cardiovascular Disease, Repatha and Statins
Cardiovascular Disease, Repatha and Statins

A new wonder drug has been approved across Europe by the European Medicines Agency. Evolocumab with the trade name Repatha (made by Amgen), is the new medicine that will now be more commonly prescribed in the fight against LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol in the blood.

Statins are currently the primary medicine used in lowering the level of LDL cholesterol produced in the liver, however people taking statins have complained about unpleasant side effects.

The new drug Repatha is the first drug of its kind since the 1980s and it can halve cholesterol levels without the side effects of statins. Although it can have side effects like throat infections and common cold, experts have described it as a massive development in cholesterol and heart treatments.

Cholesterol sources

It is potentially dangerous to have a high level of LDL cholesterol because it can lead to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries as well as cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease of CVD is a generic term for a disease of the heart or blood vessels, and it is the most common cause of death in the UK. The main types of CVD are:

  • coronary heart disease – when the blood supply to the heart becomes restricted
  • angina – sharp chest pain, caused by coronary heart disease
  • heart attacks – when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked
  • stroke – when the supply of blood to the brain becomes blocked

Statins are usually prescribed for patients with a CVD diagnosis, as well as offered to people with a personal and family medical history that indicates that they are likely to develop CVD.

Repatha (Evolocumab) is the drug that expected to transform treatment in this area given its success rate during clinical trials – reducing levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 55%. Repatha is more effective than other drugs in removing LDL cholesterol by blocking a naturally-occurring protein that interferes with the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. Taken alongside statins during trials, Repatha helped reduce cholesterol levels to 75% lower than those given statins alone.

Although the drug will not be made available to the UK’s NHS patients yet, it can now be prescribed by doctors; however they cost £170 per dose compared to statins which £20 per dose.

About 17 million people in the UK take statins – including people at risk of developing CVD, and they have helped in reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

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