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Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? TRENTON, N.J. -- U.S. regulators on Friday approved a new type of cholesterol-lowering drug aimed at millions of people who can't tolerate — or don't get enough help from — widely used statin pills like Lipitor and Crestor. The FDA has approved two new non-statin drugs that clinical trials indicated can help reduce high cholesterol. The most common adverse reactions to the drug were upper respiratory infection, muscle spasms, hyperuricemia, back pain, abdominal pain or discomfort, bronchitis, pain in extremity, anemia and elevated liver enzymes. Nexletol, also known as bempedoic acid, should be available in late March, the company said. Michael Valant, 71, of League City, Texas, took Nexletol for about 19 months in one study. The company has also applied for FDA approval to use the drug as a combination pill with ezetimibe, another non-statin. The FDA approved this drug based on the fact that it can lower cholesterol, but it's still being studied to see if it will lower the risk of stroke and heart attack in patients who can't tolerate statins. The availability of new drugs and biological products often means new treatment options for … Pa. high court denies another bid by Trump allies to halt election certification, Michigan restaurant leaves franchise over virus restrictions, Pennsylvania high court rejects lawsuit challenging election, Ex-Trump campaign aide sues over Russia probe surveillance, This undated photo provided by Esperion Inc. shows the cholesterol-lowering drug Nexletol made by Esperion Therapeutics Inc. Today's approval provides them with a new medicine to go along with a healthy diet," said Tim Mayleben, president and chief executive officer of Esperion in a release. Other options include Zetia pills, also sold in generic form as ezetimibe for about $13 to $50 a month. Millions of people take cheap, generic statins, but the medicines don’t lower LDL cholesterol enough for many patients and others experience side effects such as muscle pain. Compared to a placebo, the drug reduced LDL cholesterol by an average of 18% in patients who were also on a statin, studies showed. Far fewer patients use Repatha and Praluent, newer drugs that cost $6,000 or more a year. The Food and Drug Administration approved Esperion Therapeutics Inc.’s Nexletol for people genetically predisposed to have sky-high cholesterol and people who have heart disease and need to further lower their bad cholesterol. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take Nexletol because of possible harm to the baby, the FDA said. In company-funded studies, common Nexletol side effects included high blood pressure and muscle and joint pain. He consults for Esperion and helped test the drug. Blumenthal said he could see doctors using the new drug if a statin doesn't lower cholesterol enough or if the statin isn't tolerated. Statins are safe medications, and people with or at risk for heart disease and stroke should take them as directed, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Studies showed that Nexletol could lower LDL by about 25% when taken alone and by an additional 18% when combined with a statin. That FDA decision is expected soon. “It definitely made a difference,” Valant said. Statins are prescription drugs used to lower cholesterol. Statins also block cholesterol production in the liver, but in a different way, so the drugs together can reduce LDL more. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Nexletol works by inhibiting cholesterol production. In studies, that combination reduced cholesterol between 38% to 44%, the company said. When arteries narrow, it restricts blood and oxygen from flowing to your heart and causes heart problems or stroke. The company has a large study underway to see whether Nexletol can lower the risk of heart attacks and other problems, not just cholesterol. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 approved Esperion Therapeutics Inc.’s Nexletol for people genetically predisposed to have sky-high cholesterol and others who have heart disease and need to further lower their bad cholesterol. The company estimates Nexletol could be appropriate for up to 18 million Americans and more than 100 million people in other countries. "I definitely think it will be another tool that we have to utilize," said Blumenthal, director of Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. 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