Say it three times and it’s yours. Anacetrapib: It is part of the drug class of cholesteryl ester anise protein (CETP) inhibitors. If you have high cholesterol, you may wish it was yours. I’m revisiting news issued last November because it was really promising. In studies, anacetrapib boosted HDL, or good cholesterol, and clipped LDL, or bad cholesterol. The initial study was done for Merck & Co. and the lead researcher predicted: “This could really be the next big thing.”
When presented at the American Heart Association’s conference, one cardiologist said of the findings, “It’s like a rocket to Jupiter versus one to the moon.” Millions of us are waiting for this rocket to take off—and land safely on our moon.
Trials, Few Tribulations
Four years ago, Pfizer abandoned research costing $800 million on a similar drug in development, torcetrapib, due to elevations in blood pressure. Not so thus far with anaceptrapib. In fact, Lee Davies, Merck’s global spokesperson, told me that the next global trial has begun enrolling patients this year. It will include 30,000 patients at 400 hospitals and is estimated to be completed in 2017.
Among the questions to be answered: Does artificially increasing good cholesterol protect the heart as well as a process that occurs naturally? The original study was small, and researchers couldn’t really tell whether the potent anacetrapib reduced deaths, heart attacks and related problems: They’ll know after the next round of research. What was apparent was a lack of serious side effects, always welcome news.
Want to participate in the trial or learn more? Go to www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Rice is Nice
In the meantime, I’ll wait and continue with my non-prescription regimen that is, ladies and gentlemen, working. High cholesterol and cardiovascular mortality run rampant on both sides of my family and so it’s not surprising that I also have them. I control my cholesterol with red yeast rice and plant sterols. The results are “pretty good,” given my genes: HDL could be higher, LDL, lower, but with every test, they look better.
I try hard to eat wisely. ‘Fessing up here, I admit I do eat meat, along with legumes, fish, chicken and yes, fruits and vegetables: Love them. I’ve counted calories and carbohydrates since age 13, and now I scrutinize fat content and food labels—it does require effort. My doctor and I monitor my liver with regular bloodwork.
Here’s why. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says: “The active ingredient in red yeast is the same as the active ingredient in prescription drugs called statins used for high cholesterol.” That’s why red yeast has all the possible side effects, drug interactions, and precautions associated with this type of drug. The American Heart Association warns against using red yeast until the results of long-term studies are in.” As with all medications and supplements, my doctor and I must evaluate the risks and benefits. Thus far, the benefits are winning.