Crestor cuts risk of vein clots by 43 pct – study

ORLANDO, Fla, (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s  powerful cholesterol drug Crestor cut the risk  of dangerous blood clots in the vein by 43 percent, researchers  said yesterday in a study that shows yet more benefits from  widely used statin drugs.

“It is another benefit of an extraordinary class of drug,”  said Dr. Paul Ridker of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston,  who led the study.

Such a clot, called venous thrombosis, “is very common, it  can be very disabling and occasionally it’s fatal … This is  actually evidence that we can prevent the first one.”

Reducing the risk of the venous clots was a secondary goal  of a landmark 17,802-patient study, known as Jupiter, whose  main results were released to great fanfare in November.

Jupiter found that Crestor dramatically cut deaths, heart  attacks and strokes in patients with healthy cholesterol levels  but who had high levels of a protein associated with heart  disease.      The trial was stopped more than two years early by  independent safety monitors because the benefit of Crestor,  also known as rosuvastatin, was so pronounced.

Other data released from Jupiter yesterday demonstrated  more substantial benefits from patients who saw both their bad  cholesterol and levels of the protein, known as CRP, fall to  very low target levels, compared with those who reached only  one target or neither.

The Jupiter study, which involved subjects who would not  normally be prescribed statins, randomized the men and women to  either 20 milligrams of Crestor once a day, or a placebo.

Of the 17,802 patients, 34 in the Crestor group developed a  venous thromboembolism, compared with 60 in the placebo group,  according to data presented at the American College of  Cardiology scientific meeting in Orlando.
The results marked the first time a statin demonstrated an  ability to prevent such clots in a major clinical trial,  researchers said.

“This is pure prevention,” Ridker said.
There was also no bleeding risk with Crestor, which is an  issue with other anti-clotting medicines, Ridker said.
Dr. Scott Wright, a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic in  Minnesota attending the conference, said he was cautiously  optimistic about the clot reduction, but noted that the overall  numbers of blood clots were small.

Wright said he would like to see the benefit verified in  other studies — such as in people at high risk of such clots  — before it changed his practice.

Robert Glynn, a biostatistician involved in the trial, said  the mechanism for how Crestor cut clots was unclear, but it was  unlikely the same way the drug reduces cholesterol.

Venous thromboembolism, the clotting of red blood cells in  the veins, can develop into clots that break off and lodge in  the lungs — a potentially fatal condition. At least 100,000 of  such pulmonary embolism cases occur each year in the United  States.

Various anti-coagulant drugs, such as warfarin, are already  given to patients who suffer a blood clot in order to prevent  others from developing, but the Jupiter data could lead  physicians to add statins to their treatment regimens.

The data also gives more reasons to prescribe statins,  which have already demonstrated their ability to reduce heart  attacks and strokes, Ridker said.

“We’re not arguing that you should go on a statin to lower  your risk of venous thrombosis,” Ridker said.
Ridker, who has studied many statin drugs, said the other  drugs in the class also would offer benefits similar to Crestor  based on their potency. Crestor is the most powerful statin.

Jupiter’s implications for disease prevention were a  featured topic at the cardiology meeting.
Dr. Mark Hlatky of Stanford University in California noted  that high-risk patients stand to gain more from statins and  that while generic statins can cost less that $1 a day, brand  name versions such as Crestor cost $3 to $4 a day.

“Since branded statins are much more expensive than generic  statins, it’s not at all certain that using them provides  enough additional benefit to justify their higher cost,” Hlatky  told a panel discussion on the broad Jupiter results.

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