Sunday, February 1, 2004

Cholesterol drugs studied

By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Doctors in Greater Cincinnati have used experimental cholesterol drugs on a limited basis.

Sterling Research Group in Mount Auburn has done four small studies using the Pfizer drug torcetrapib, which blocks CETP, a protein responsible for transferring cholesterol from the good high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, to the bad LDL.

By blocking that transfer, patients keep more of the good cholesterol, said Dr. Eli Roth, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Cincinnati and medical director of Sterling.

Since 2001, Roth has conducted four clinical trials with the drug, involving 45 patients. The drugs have increased HDL in the "50 percent to 70 percent range," Roth said.

In a few months, Roth will start a six-year trial to study outcomes. In other words, will these drugs actually prevent people from having heart attacks and strokes? He's looking for 60 "high-risk" patients - those with artery blockage, diabetes or other complications.

Prevention is the big unknown, said Dr. Dean Kereiakes, CEO for the Ohio Heart Health Center and medical director for the Lindner Center for Research and Education.

The drug's projected cost for a patient is about $1,500 a week, and at the price, "I hope that we would see a reduction in heart attacks, strokes and death," Kereiakes said.


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