Health advisers in America have recommended that a drug used to lower cholesterol levels be used on healthy patients to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
AstraZeneca’s Crestor pill has been proven to benefit people with normal cholesterol, prompting a panel of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) experts to vote in favour of its wider use.
A majority of 12-4 advisers, with one abstention, said the benefits of the drugs outweighed the risks, meaning it should be marketed to new patients.
The FDA does not have to follow the recommendation of the experts, but has been known to. It is expected to deliver a decision early next year, which could mean AstraZeneca could market the drug to more than 6.5 million new patients.
The company asked to expand its market following a study which showed Crestor reduced heart problems by 44% in patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes, but who had normal cholesterol levels.
It was unclear whether this was as a result of lower cholesterol or lower C-reactive proteins, as Crestor reduces both.
Risks associated with the drug, including a higher rate of diabetes, were acknowledged by the panel, but they said the benefits of Crestor outweighed the negatives, and added that all statin drugs are likely to have similar side effects.
Copyright Press Association 2009