FDA advisors back cholesterol drug for"healthy" people

WASHINGTON, D.C.; December 16, 2009

A recent study funded by the maker of Crestor shows the statin significantly decreases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Patients in the study didn't have symptoms of heart disease, or high cholesterol. However, they did have high levels of C-Reactive Protein, or CRP, a blood chemical which reflects the minor inflammation which doctors think plays a role in heart disease.

If the new use for Crestor is approved, up to 6 million more Americans could be on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Some doctors say this will help prevent more problems.

Others question whether the risks outweigh the benefits.

Several consumer groups, including Public Citizen, say Crestor has some serious side effects which were well-documented even before it was originally approved. In 2004, Public Citizen petitioned the Food And Drug Administration to take Crestor off the market.

Statins can cause muscle pain. Crestor has also been linked to Rhabdomyolysis, a rare muscle destroying disease. Several years ago Baycol, another popular statin drug, was banned for its link to Rhabdomyolysis.

Statins can also affect the liver, and and according to this study, Crestor may put people at a greater risk for diabetes.

The FDA does not have to follow the panel's recommendations. However, it usually does.

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