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HDL-raising trials halted; Drug backed for diabetes; Pill's arterial plaque risk

HDL-raising trials halted

Development of the HDL-raising drug torcetrapib was halted because of ‘an excess of major cardiovascular disease events', delegates heard.

Torcetrapib raised HDL levels by an average of 72% and decreased LDL levels by 25%, but there was a 60% increase in deaths, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, and hospitalisations for unstable angina in patients taking it, leading to the trials being stopped.

Lead researcher Dr Philip Barter, director of the Heart Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, said: ‘It's a shame if raising HDL remains untested just because pharmaceutical companies don't have the courage to go ahead and test these compounds.'

Drug backed for diabetes

Fenofibrate protects against acute coronary syndrome and amputations caused by diabetic complications, suggests latest data from the FIELD study of 9,795 Type 2 patients.

Taking the fibrate for five years cut hospitalisations for silent ACS by 15%, and reduced clinically diagnosed ACS events by 20% – as well as reducing the number of amputations.

Pill's arterial plaque risk

Taking oral contraceptives raises the risk of developing arterial plaques by 20 to 30% for every 10 years they are taken, delegates heard.

Current or previous exposure to any kind of oral contraceptive raised the risk of carotid artery plaques by 42%, and femoral plaques by 34%, suggests a study of 1,301 Belgian women.

Lead researcher Dr Ernst Rieztschel, a lecturer in cardiology at the Ghent University hospital in Belgium, said: ‘It's incredible that a drug that is being taken by more than 80% of women for more than 10 years is almost bereft of long-term clinical outcomes data.'

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