New drug to lower cholesterol shows promise

By: Sandra Hughes, CBS
By: Sandra Hughes, CBS

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Doctors are excited about a new experimental drug that could eventually help millions of Americans control their cholesterol levels.

He may look fit now but two years ago Bill Turner's doctor told him his cholesterol was too high.

"It was a bit of a wake up call. My doctor kept encouraging me to eat a little bit more healthier and exercise more," he said.

Now, researchers may have a new weapon in the fight against cholesterol. It's an experimental pill that raises good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol levels.

Cleveland Clinic researchers looked at nearly 400 people who took evacetrapib alone or with other cholesterol-lowering drugs. At the highest dose, the drug was able to raise good cholesterol, or HDL, levels by nearly 130 percent and lowered bad cholesterol, or LDL levels, 36 percent.

"Raising levels of good cholesterol in the next frontier," said Dr. Steven Nissen, who works at the Cleveland Clinic.

About one in six adults has high cholesterol. Untreated it can lead to cardiovascular disease including stroke and heart attack.

"We have to come up with drugs that raise good cholesterol to beat this disease and right now we don't have them," said Dr. Nissen.

Testing on a similar drug was stopped because it raised blood pressure levels. So far this new cholesterol pill doesn't seem to have serious side effects. But researchers caution this study only looked at patients for three months and that more testing is needed.

The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 and older have their cholesterol and triglycerides checked once every five years.

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