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UK’s NICE approves cholesterol drug ezetimibe


The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved ezetimibe to reduce cholesterol levels in some patients.

The drug is licensed to treat familial heterozygous hypercholesterolaemia and nonfamilial primary hypercholesterolaemia in patients who have already been prescribed a statin and whose cholesterol counts remain high.

The UK has some of the highest average cholesterol levels in the world, and cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death.

It accounted for about 216,000 deaths in 2004, and is a significant cause of illness, disability and reduced quality of life, NICE said.

Cholesterol charity Heart UK praised the move, saying thousands of people will benefit.

Director Michael Livingston said: “We are delighted with the decision made by NICE to recommend ezetimibe in England and Wales.

“The impact of high cholesterol is huge and too many patients are still being put at risk of premature death – over 4,000 people die every week of cardiovascular disease in the UK because of high cholesterol, smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet.

“Prescribing ezetimibe will be of great benefit to those who currently find it very difficult to reach their cholesterol target.”

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