Statin Answers

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Statin Drugs in the United States

The use of statin drugs increased dramatically from 1990 to 2010 for several reasons, including their effectiveness in lowering LDL cholesterol, their ability to decrease the rate of death from heart attacks or stroke, and their reputation as "safe drugs" with few and tolerable side-effects.

It is estimated that 20% of Americans past age 40 took medication for cholesterol in 2003 and that percentage went up to 28% by 2012. Now an estimated 93% of patients who use drugs to lower cholesterol take a statin.

It is thought that 32 million people in the US take statins and up to 200 million people worldwide.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 17% of US residents between the ages of 40 and 59 take a statin, The number is 43% of those in 60 to 79 year of age and 48% of those over 80.

Among Americans past age 40, 71% of those with cardiovascular disease take a statin, 63% of those with diabetes, and 54% of those with high cholesterol.

Giving statins to people who do not yet show symptoms of coronary artery disease is called chemoprophylaxis, or primary prevention, and is increasingly accepted as a form of care in individuals who are susceptible.

A study by the Cochrane Collaboration released in 2011 suggested that statins are overprescribed for low-risk patients, especially women. However, the broader medical community still recommends usage. An article in The Lancet in 2012Pravastatin

Pravastatin (trade name Pravachol) is a statin drug developed in Japan by scientists at pharmaceutical company Sankyo in 1979. Pravastatin is produced by chemical modification of lovastatin in a two-step fermentation reaction performed by the bacterium Nocardia autotrophica.

Pravastatin was first launched by Sankyo in Japan. In 1991, following FDA approval, pravastatin was introduced to the US market by Bristol-Myers Squibb who had acquired the rights to sell it outside of Japan. Pravastatin is classified as a first-generation statin. When second generation statins simvastatin and atorvastatin came along, use of pravastatin declined.

Myopathic patients, who cannot tolerate other stains, may be administered pravastatin.

Pravastatin is available in 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg tablets and is taken orally. Typical starting doses are between 20-40 mgs. Since the patent expired in 2006, several generic drug makers have received FDA approval to produce pravastatin.

Pravastatin is rarely prescribed in the United States anymore, unless there is a particular reason to do so. Simvastatin and atorvastatin are available as cheap generics. These are considered superior drugs that can lower serum cholesterol levels more with similar or fewer adverse effects. In the history of statins pravastatin is important as a pioneer, but its time is passed. The company funded a study called the PROVE-IT study, which Forbes magazine called "a huge, self-inflicted disaster".

A Polish study recent found pravastatin increased the body’s sensitivity to insulin, ( which is the opposite effect that atorvastatin has.

There is some interest in using pravastatin for liver diseases.

It is also being investigated as a protective agent for kidneys in chemotherapy patients.
( And for cardiovascular issues in people with Marfan syndrome.

ALso: Low-dose pravastatin reduced atherothrombotic infarction in certain patients with stroke


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Statin Answers: Straight Facts About Cholesterol Drugs

Learn about the side effects and benefits of statin drugs that millions of people take to control their cholesterol. Statin Answers presents scientifically grounded, yet easy-to-understand facts about these drugs. Read all sides of the ongoing debate within the medical community debate about who should take these medications and whether the costs exceed the benefits.

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