Could PCSK9 inhibitors, a new class of cholesterol-busting drugs, be right for you? Here are 4 things you need to know about these powerful drugs, which can help lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol by up to 50 to 70 percent.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first agent in a brand new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs PCSK9 inhibitors. One of Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015, this injectable drug can lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol by as much as 50 to 70 percent when used as combination therapy.
If you’re thinking of asking your doctor if PCSK9 inhibitors might be right for you, here are 4 things cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD, wants you to know:
The newly approved drug can be prescribed for two specific conditions: 1) patients with a certain type of hereditary high cholesterol called heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia; 2) or in people who already have heart disease and have had a cardiac event or procedure such as a heart attack, bypass surgery, or a coronary stent. “These drugs are not for people who have high cholesterol but have never had a coronary event,” Dr. Nissen says.
So far, PCSK9 inhibitors are approved for LDL-lowering in adult patients along with diet and the maximum dose of statin therapy you can tolerate. The new drug plus conventional statins give LDL cholesterol the one-two punch. PCSK9 inhibitors currently are not approved as stand-alone therapy, but clinical outcome trials are underway to see if they might have that potential.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that PCSK9 inhibitors are very well tolerated with few side effects. They are particularly useful because they appear to work well while not producing the muscle side effects in people who experience muscle pain when taking statins.
PCSK9 inhibitors are injectable drugs administered by the patient, using a very simple method, every 2 weeks or once a month.
Hear what else Dr. Nissen has to say about this important medical breakthrough in this video: