Statin drugs, such as Lipitor, are some of the most common forms of treatment to lower high cholesterol in patients. These drugs may lower cholesterol by 50 percent. However, statin drugs have their own set of side effects that can be hard to deal with. Not only can statins cause muscle spasms and pain, they have also been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in post-menopausal women.
Peggy O’Connor is one who could not tolerate the side effects that came with statin drugs. A year and a half ago, she signed up for a clinical trial of a cholesterol reducing drug called Alirocumab. This drug is injected twice monthly, unlike daily oral statins.
Alirocumab is a medications that works by blocking the action of a protein, which in turn improves the liver’s ability to remove bad cholesterol of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, from the bloodstream. In the clinical trials, the injections lowered LDL levels by over 60 percent.
Previously at 170, O’Connor’s cholesterol level has dropped more than 100 points to 50, after a year and a half on the drug.
This drug has not proven to prevent heart attack or stroke yet, but experts say if the drug is inhibited long enough to lower the cholesterol to 40 or 30, this drug could potentially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease – the number one killer for men and women.
These drugs are biologics, and more costly than statins, with a price of about $10,000 a year.