PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A different way to lower bad cholesterol may be just around the corner. It’s an injection, every other week, and it has been doing well in clinical trials.

It’s in a class called PCSK9 inhibitors, drugs that lead to the destruction of LDL, or bad cholesterol.

“Always looking for a better tool to reduce coronary disease,” says Dr. Robert Biederman, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital.

In a study of roughly 100 patients, it was compared to the cholesterol lowering pill, Zetia. This and other currently available pills work by interfering with cholesterol formation.

Over a 24-week period, those taking Zetia had their bad cholesterol go down 15 percent. Those taking the study drug had theirs go down 47 percent, though a few had to increase the dose to get a good response.

But would patients go for a chronic treatment that involves shots?

“The patient doesn’t have to take a pill every day,” Dr. Biederman points out. “Theoretically, it might have less side effects, and so better tolerance.”

Two out of three patients had side effects, mostly cold and flu-like symptoms.

These are the results of studies testing safety and effectiveness. So far, not peer-reviewed, and not published. Before the FDA considers approval, that, plus a combination of many more studies, will have to be done

“A hundred patients is nowhere near FDA approval. So this just sort of breaks the ice, and it’s another nice study that demonstrates the utility of the drug,” says Dr. Biederman.

In the study, the researchers looked at LDL levels only, not deaths or heart attacks, events that would show the drug is truly making a difference.

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Dr. Maria Simbra