Survey finds three cholesterol drugs could get a boost

EAST HANOVER, NJ: Three cholesterol drugs stand to benefit from new cholesterol guidelines introduced this summer, found a survey by a health-research company.

EAST HANOVER, NJ: Three cholesterol drugs stand to benefit from new cholesterol guidelines introduced this summer, found a survey by a health-research company.

NOP World Health polled 601 doctors in two separate internet polls on how their prescribing patterns would be influenced by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

The guidelines, published in July, lower the acceptable level of LDL (or "bad") cholesterol by 30 points.

"It's an opportunity for a company to come in and own this," said Andrea McDonough, senior director of NOP World Health's market events.

She added that drug companies have yet to really leverage the guidelines, put out by the National Institutes of Health, in their PR work.

"The information is out here," she said. "A company would be wise to use [it] in their favor."

The internet poll suggested a hike for AstraZeneca's Crestor, Merck/Schering-Plough's Zetia, and Merck newcomer Vytorin.

Doctors indicated that Crestor had a reputation for being particularly effective at lowering cholesterol. Vytorin, meanwhile, is the first combination cholesterol drug; it lowers LDL cholesterol in two ways, by preventing its production and by blocking its absorption.

"There's a lot of excitement around Vytorin," McDonough said. "Here's a way to get compliance - not just [efficacy] but compliance. Because that's half the problem."

Pfizer's Lipitor currently leads in the cholesterol category.

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