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Drug backed despite cancer fears


An anticholesterol drug which is claimed can cause cancer is still being backed by heart experts.

A US study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found higher rates of cancer among patients prescribed Inegy.

The pill combines a widely-used statin called simvastatin – which blocks cholesterol in the liver – with another drug, ezetimibe.

Higher rates of cancer were found among those using the drug compared to patients taking a placebo.

The British Heart Foundation has sought to reassure those taking the drug, saying regulators would act quickly if hard evidence of risk emerged.

Over the last 24 months in Britain, about 300,000 prescriptions for Inegy have been dispensed to patients.

Dr Mike Knapton, director of prevention and cure at the British Heart Foundation, said patients who were concerned about the risk should speak to their GPs.

He pointed to research by Oxford University academics which combined three studies of the drug and found there was no increased risk of cancer.

And he called for closer study of patients using the combination drug, saying: “At the moment it’s not clear if there is a risk. It would be a disaster if, on one hand, a drug which benefits patients gets shelved.

And added: “Because one study did show a cancer risk, it is crucial that others continue and are monitored closely to definitively confirm or refute any link.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

British Heart Foundation

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