A pregnant woman has her blood pressure measured by a hospital staff
A pregnant woman has her blood pressure measured by a paramedic after she and colleagues were evacuated following an earthquake in Mexico City April 18, 2014. The magnitude 7.2 quake was centred in the south-western state of Guerrero, close to the Pacific beach resort of Acapulco, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said. Some residents of the capital ran outdoors in their pajamas after the quake. Electricity was cut off in parts of the city and some residents said paintings fell off the walls while small parts of masonry crumbled inside apartment buildings. REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya

A cholestrol drug developed by Sanofi and Regeneron is effective in lowering the level of bad cholestrol in the body by 30 percent even if it is taken once a month instead of the prescribed two-week interval.

A total of 803 patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia, or excessive cholesterol in the bloodstream, with moderate to high risk of acquiring a cardiovascular condition, were given 300 mg of Alirocumab every four weeks and 300 patients receiving a placebo and statin therapy were compared to the first group. In the second trial, 233 patients with hypercholesterolemia and high risk of cardiovascular conditions, were given 150 mg of Alirocumab every four weeks and were compared to another placebo group not receiving statin therapy.

About five per cent of the patients experienced side effects, including headache, respiratory tract infection, nausea, joint pain, sinusitis and fatigue.

After 12 weeks, the researchers found that those receiving 300 mg of the drug every four weeks had cholestrol levels that were reduced by 30 per cent compared to the placebo group. Aliruocumab is expected to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes in patients by 50 per cent by decreasing the level of bad cholestrol in the body.

According to a Reuters report, the drug Aliruocumab will lead to billions in revenue for Sanofi and Regeneron since about 36 million Americans will be eligible to take the drug by 2016. A therapy using this drug is estimated to cost about $6,000 per annum.

Many patients at high cardiovascular risk struggle to reach optimal bad cholestrol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, levels. The new trials, known as the Odyssey trials, help patients who cannot reach optimal bad cholestrol levels because of difficulty in tolerating statin therapy.

Alirocumab is currently under clinical development.

Paris-listed Sanofi has seven key growth areas: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme.

Regeneron, listed on Nasdaq, is a pharmaceutical company dealing in medicines for eye diseases, colorectal cancer, as well as hypercholesterolemia, oncology, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis.

To contact the writer, email: sonali.raj@gmail.com