Despite facing a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, patients with type 2 diabetes often take a combination of drugs designed to lower their LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels while raising their HDL (good cholesterol) due to the belief from doctors that taken together, the drugs offer protection from heart attacks and improve survival.
Three doctors, who recently served on a Food and Drug Administrative panel, analyzed the drugs' effectiveness and explained that commonly prescribed medications have not been proven successful at preventing heart attacks in patients who have high cholesterol with Type 2 diabetes.
Called fibrates, the drugs aim is to reduce blood triglyceride levels and increase the amount of HDL cholesterol, often prescribed to diabetes patients as an add-on to statins (drugs that lower LDL cholesterol). The three fibrates now approved by the FDA gemfibrozil (Lopid), fenofibrate (Tricor) and fenofibric acid (Trillipix), amount to billions of dollars in annual sales in the U.S.
Sanjay Kaul, MD, a commentary author and director of the Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute explained,
"There have been few studies regarding the clinical outcome efficacy of fibrates.
Thousands and thousands of Americans take fibrates every day but so far, there are no long-term studies showing that fibrates lower cardiovascular risk or improve survival among diabetes patients who are also on statins."
Although more studies are needed, the researchers suggest that for the time being doctors prescribe the statin-fibrate combination, only after optimal control of LDL cholesterol has been successful with satin treatment, to diabetic patients at high risk for a heart attack.
Written by Grace Rattue