If approved, the new injectable drugs would be the first in a new class of drugs — known as PCSK9 inhibitors — to treat high cholesterol.. The drugs block the PCSK9 protein found in the body, which then allows the liver to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Studies show the drugs can drastically reduce bad cholesterol to extremely low levels without producing the side-effects suffered by some people who take statins.
“Blocking the PCSK9 that’s naturally produced allows the body’s cholesterol to go way down,” says Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “The LDL cholesterol is then able to drop by 60-70 percent when you take these injections."
Right now, patients with high cholesterol depend on statins like Lipitor, Mevacor, and Crestor to keep their cholesterol levels low. However, some patients with high cholesterol don’t respond well to statins.
Max Kunzler is one of them.
Max suffers from hereditary high cholesterol, so eight years ago he started taking statins to bring his LDL cholesterol down. However after experiencing some bad side-effects from the statins, like cramps in his legs that prevented him from walking, he stopped taking them.
“While I haven’t been able to take any statin drugs to get my cholesterol down, I’ve actually ended up having two heart attacks,” says Kunzler.
People who are intolerant to statins or can’t get their cholesterol low enough even with statins would be the biggest benefactors of these new drugs once they’re approved.
“If your body produces too much cholesterol you’re just stuck at the present time,” says Dr. Muhlestein. “However cases like Max make me excited about the possibility of having these new injectable drugs. They will really make a difference in the way we treat their cholesterol and allow them to live a better life.”
For more information on these new drugs and to see how they’ll benefit people who are intolerant to statins, watch this Check Your Health KUTV report.