Dr. Steven Nissen
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“This is a big deal,” said Steven Nissen, MD, chair of the Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute, speaking to Margaret Warner on PBS Newshour, May 27, 2011. He was referring to a recent decision by the NIH to halt testing of a new niacin-based drug. The drug promised to raise patients’ HDL – the “good” cholesterol and lower their risk of cardiac events. But while the drug was able to raise HDL levels, this – for some unknown reason – did not reduce their risk of dying from heart disease. There was even a slight increase in the risk of stroke.
“It was a shocker to the medical community,” said Dr. Nissen. “Many people would have bet on this drug working. It probably shouldn’t have surprised us … We have seen this kind of problem occur over and over again after — over the last decade, that drugs that make biochemical measures better don’t always make people better. And we really have to demand a higher quality of evidence.”
You can read the whole interview here. But before you go any further, Dr. Nissen has a message for anyone who is exposed to this or any other media account of a clinical trial: “Patients should never stop taking a drug because of a news report.” If you are taking the drug being tested, you should always consult your doctor before stopping for any reason.