The experimental cholesterol drug CordaptiveTM (ER niacin/laropiprant) has been shown in a phase III trial to significantly reduce artery-clogging fats, according to manufacturer Merck.
Merck said Cordaptive can raise HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) and lower LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels.
It combines extended-release niacin with the flushing pathway inhibitor laropiprant.
The 24-week study looked at 1,600 patients and found that Cordaptive produced an 18% drop in levels of LDL-C, and a 20% increase in levels of HDL-C, compared with placebo.
The results were about the same whether or not patients were also taking cholesterol-lowering statins.
Some 29% of the subjects reported moderate flushing or worse, compared with 56% of patients taking just extended-release niacin, and 6% of those taking a dummy pill.
Dr Anders Olsson, who helped conduct the study, said: “Many LDL-C-lowering drugs have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. However, the majority of these patients continue to be at risk for cardiovascular events.
“Niacin has been shown in previous outcome studies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, but its use has been limited as a result of the flushing side-effect.
“The results of this phase III study support the development of the investigational compound Cordaptive, which may result in fewer patients discontinuing therapy due to flushing.”
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