Drug may slow MS
Cholesterol medicine studied
May 14, 2004. 01:00 AM
Source: Toronto Star
Patent concerns fuel research
PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER
A cholesterol treatment that is already one of the world's top-selling drugs may slow or even reverse the signs of multiple sclerosis, according to a new study published today.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina found that treating multiple sclerosis patients with the statin Zocor slowed the progression of the lesions on the brain that are linked with the debilitating effects of the disease.
Statins - medicines that lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking an enzyme needed to synthesize cholesterol- are currently used in millions of patients. They build levels of "good" cholesterol while lowering the levels of "bad" cholesterol that are blamed for the buildup of plaque in the heart, which can lead to heart disease.
The findings, published today in the medical journal The Lancet, build on previous studies at Stanford University that found that the statin Lipitor reversed or prevented a type of paralysis that is similar to MS in mice.
However, doctors are warning that statins need more study before doctors begin prescribing them widely to MS patients.
"I think that's what we're all saying, we don't want to be overly optimistic, but we don't want to be overly pessimistic," said Dr. William McIlroy, national medical advisor for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
Merck, which makes simvastatin, sold as Zocor, funded the study at the U.S. school, which also stands to benefit financially through patents if the findings bear fruit.
After treating 28 MS patients with 80mg of Zocor for six months, researchers found that brain lesions linked with MS had decreased in both number and development.
"It's a small study, the number of patients involved are small and the patients are only followed for six months, which is a very short time in a disease that lasts a lifetime," McIlroy said.
Merck is desperate to find more uses for its drug, which, according to Reuters, went off patent in the U.K. this year.
Patent expiration typically means an 80 per cent drop in sales for brand-name drug makers as generic manufacturers move into the market .
COMMENT: This study is funded by Merk, that is the owner of the Zocor's Pantents. This is another clear example of pharmaceutical propaganda to save money and revert patents: this is a FACTOID
Meanwhile Statin and other colesterol drugs are receiving a lot of negative critics, the pharmaceutical companies are trying to save their markets with new junk studies switching the attention on "new findings" and the "over the counter" joke. T
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