Experimental Drugs Approved for High Cholesterol

The Federal Drug Administration advisory committee approved two new experimental drugs believed to be more potent and have fewer side effects than statins, popular cholesterol-lowering medications used to manage cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

That’s potentially good news for the nearly 31 million American adults who have a total cholesterol level greater than 240 mg/dL.

If approved, the injectable drugs, alirocumab (Praluent) from Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and evolocumab (Repatha) from Amgen Inc., would benefit those who don’t respond well or can’t tolerate the side effects of statins like muscle pain and weakness.

The downside: estimated cost is between $7,000 and $12,000 a year per patient. In comparison, statins cost between $48 a year (for generic forms), up to between $500 and $7,000 a year (for brand-name drugs).

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