New Warning for Statins

Statins, including Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor, are among the most prescribed drug in the world, and are currently routinely taken by millions of Americans. They are indicated for people with high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke in this population. Yet the FDA has just issued new warnings concerning potential side effects: elevated blood sugar, which is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and cognitive impairment such as memory loss. The warnings will not be affixed to the outside of the bottle, but will be included in the package insert that comes with all prescription medications.


Personalized Medicine Approach Provides More Benefit for Patients with High Cholesterol than Current Guidelines

Statins are a class of drugs that lower cholesterol and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. They work by preventing the synthesis of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”) in the liver and promoting its clearance from the blood. They are the most effective cholesterol-lowering drugs currently available and are the cornerstone of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) treatment guidelines.

The NCEP recommends a “treat-to-target” strategy, in which patients are given specific statin doses to achieve a desired level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. In this case, low LDL cholesterol is the “target.” Yet some physicians are questioning whether treating to any target is the best approach to fighting disease. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that “tailored treatment”, an approach attempts to practice personalized medicine by estimating three factors, is more effective than a treat-to-target strategy [1].