Lipitor, which belongs to a group of drugs known as statins, reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in the body which in turn helps reduce a person's risks of heart attack, stroke and other heart problems. It is especially helpful to people with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease but while the drug is widely recommended and used, there are people who do not get much from taking Lipitor or cannot simply tolerate the drug.

An experimental drug developed by biopharmaceutical company Amgen Inc., however, may soon provide an alternative and possibly even a better option to Lipitor for this group of patients. The drug called evolocumab mimics the cholesterol-reducing effects of a genetic mutation to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol in the blood.

Clinical trials show that evolocumab is effective in reducing levels of blood fat. Data from three large studies of the drug presented at the 63rd Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Saturday have shown that patients who received evolocumab reduced their bad cholesterol by as much as 66 percent.

In the Descartes study involving subjects with high cholesterol levels, subjects who received monthly evolocumab injections for one year saw a 57 percent reduction in bad cholesterol compared to subjects who received placebo. The drug was also found beneficial to patients already on Merck's cholesterol drug, Zetia and Pfizer's Lipitor reducing their LDL level by an additional 49 percent. The results of this study appears on the New England Journal of Medicine. 

In the Mendel study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology  March 29, high cholesterol patients who did not receive other treatments slashed their bad cholesterol level by up to 57 percent after getting evolocumab for three months. The reduction is up to 40 percent more when compared to those who take Zetia.

Meanwhile, in the Rutherford-2 study involving patients with an inherited condition that causes them to have high levels of cholesterol , three months of evolocumab combined with statins and other cholesterol reducing drugs resulted in up to 66 percent bad cholesterol reduction.

"At 52 weeks, evolocumab added to diet alone, to low-dose atorvastatin, or to high-dose atorvastatin with or without ezetimibe significantly reduced LDL cholesterol levels in patients with a range of cardiovascular risks," investigators of the evolocumab studies wrote

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