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National Cholesterol Education Program might update treatment recommendations

The group's suggestions could dramatically increase the number of statin users.

August 09, 2010|By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times

In the next year or so, the market for statins may get a further boost.

The National Cholesterol Education Program, the group that drafted the 2001 and 2004 guidelines on statin use, is expected to update its treatment recommendations. In doing so, the group will decide whether to suggest the broad use of statins for healthy patients with high readings of a marker for inflammation called C-reactive protein.


FOR THE RECORD:
Statin market: An article in the Aug. 9 Health section on statin users said that Dr. Sanjay Kaul is a cardiologist at USC. He is a cardiologist at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. —

If the group does urge statins for these healthy individuals, at least 6.5 million new patients could sign up for long-term statin use.

Dr. Sanjay Kaul, a cardiologist at USC and a coauthor of one of the recent studies critical of the large-scale JUPITER trial, on which such a recommendation would likely be based, says such an expansion would be a mistake.


For the record: An article in the Aug. 9 Health section on statin users said that Dr. Sanjay Kaul is a cardiologist at USC. He is a cardiologist at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

JUPITER, says Kaul, failed to show that reducing inflammation would prevent heart attacks and save lives. And because the JUPITER trial was ended early, he added, the benefits of statin treatment were likely overstated and the likelihood of harm was likely understated.

"It was a missed opportunity" to gauge the true benefits and costs of putting vast numbers of Americans on long-term statin therapy, Kaul said. Until such a study is done right, he added, the search for new statin customers should focus on the patients for whom they are indisputably a wonder drug — those who have already had a stroke or heart attack and are determined to prevent another.

melissa.healy@latimes.com

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