A new pill that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians with life-threatening high cholesterol has just been successfully trialed.
The pill is the result of groundbreaking research by Professor Stephen Nicholls, Director of the Victorian Heart Hospital, operated by Monash Health, and the Victorian Heart Institute, based at the Monash University Clayton Campus.
The four-year clinical trial involved more than 300 Australian patients with high cholesterol, as well as 14,000 people from 32 different countries. The results of the trial were nothing short of miraculous. The new cholesterol-lowering drug, called bempedoic acid, showed a reduction in LDL cholesterol, the bad kind, by an astonishing 20-25%.
The trial also demonstrated a 13% reduction in cardiovascular complications, a 23% reduction in heart attacks, and a 19% reduction in coronary revascularization, a procedure to open blocked arteries. In short, this new drug could be a game-changer for the millions of Australians currently taking statins to lower their cholesterol.
Professor Nicholls co-led the trial and is excited about the potential for bempedoic acid. “This new drug provides another option for lowering cholesterol and is particularly important for patients who cannot tolerate statins. That’s a real problem in clinical practice, which limits our ability to effectively lower cholesterol in many patients.”
“It has the potential to help between 100,000 and 500,000 people in Australia,” Prof Nicholls said.
Statins are currently the most common treatment for high cholesterol. However, around 20% of patients on statins have tolerance issues, and around 50% of high-risk patients don’t get their cholesterol down to target levels. This is where bempedoic acid can be a lifesaver.
The new drug is currently called Nexletol and is being developed by US-based Esperion Therapeutics. It will go to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for approval for use in Australia.
Professor Nicholls expects the drug to be available to Australian patients in two years.
The new world-class Victorian Heart Hospital, operated by Monash Health at Monash University’s Clayton Campus, is Australia’s first specialist cardiac hospital. It will offer a full range of cardiovascular services, including critical and emergency care, outpatient clinics, imaging services, and a full cardiac surgical team.