People who are diagnosed with high cholesterol often turn to prescription medications to reduce their cholesterol levels. These medications, statins, are prescribed to over 20 million Americans and are extremely effective in reducing a person’s chance of a heart attack. The problem is that statin drugs have side effects that some patients must deal with.
The most serious side effect is myopathy, which is a breakdown of muscle tissue. Most often, this side effect causes muscle pain an weakness but it also can cause kidney damage, ultimately leading to death. Simvastatin (Zocor) is the main culprit in regards to this negative effect and the FDA has recently issued a statement that advises against high doses of this drug. Up to 20% of patients experience some form of myopathy when taking statins.
In order to reduce the likelihood of experiencing these side effects a genetics company, Genomas, has been researching possible genes that may indicate who is most likely to face a bad reaction to these drugs. The goal is to have a diagnostic tool that doctors can use that will be able to guide them to the best statin for each patient. Not only would this help relieve patients of possible side effects caused by statins, but it would help doctors choose the drug that will give the patient the best results in regards to lowering LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol).
In a statement, Genomas said:
“The goal is to enable clinicians to deploy a genetic decision support system to manage statins, prescribe these drugs on a DNA-guided, personalized basis, and effectively lower the risk of cardiovascular disease for each patient.”
Genomas has just been awarded a $1.3 million grant to further develop their diagnostic product, the SINM PhyzioType System. Hopefully, the side effects of statin drugs will soon be able to be prevented so that patients with high cholesterol can have little fear of these medications.