WASHINGTON — The first of a new class of drugs designed to lower cholesterol levels in the blood has been approved for sale in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration announced today.
The drug, called lovastatin and to be marketed by Merck Sharp & Dohme, West Point, Pa., as Mevacor, may be particularly useful for patients having very high cholesterol levels, such as the condition that runs in some families, the FDA said.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The regulatory agency said lovastatin is for use when diet and exercise have failed to reduce cholesterol levels. The prescription drug is labeled for use with a strict diet.
The FDA said the drug reduced total cholesterol in clinical studies by 18% to 34%, depending on the dosage used.