Harvard Heart Letter

Beyond statins: New medicines for hard-to-manage cholesterol

People with an inherited condition that
causes very high cholesterol levels will likely be the first group of individuals to be offered treatment with PCSK9 inhibitors.

Image: Thinkstock

A novel class of drugs has the potential to pick up the slack where other cholesterol medications leave off.

For decades, statins have been the workhorses of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Now, there's a new kid on the block. In June 2015, an FDA advisory committee recommended approval of two new drugs, alirocumab (Praluent) and evolocumab (Repatha). They belong to a novel category of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors that are very powerful for treating stubbornly high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol.

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