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Statin substitutes go beyond drawing board

New cholesterol-lowering drugs help people who can’t take the usual ones

5:04pm, November 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES — People who can’t take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may someday have an alternative drug option that works about as well. Three new studies show that antibodies developed to target specific proteins in cells can knock down LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, at a rate comparable to the highly successful statins, which go by brand names including Lipitor and Crestor.

The experimental drugs take a unique biological approach to clearing LDL from the blood, suggesting that they might replace statins in people who cannot abide those drugs’ side effects, particularly muscle pain. The new drugs may even work in conjunction with statins in people who inherit extremely high cholesterol.

Called biological products or “biologics” because they are made in living cells, the new drugs may fill a niche currently vexing doctors. “We have been bumping up against statin intolerance in patients,” often in people who h

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