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Lower, But…

The drug evolocumab can lower cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke risk by some 20 percent in patients already taking statins, but that's not as much as people had hoped, Nature News reports.

Evolocumab (Repatha) targets the PCSK9 protein, which regulates the number of low-density lipoprotein receptors found on the surfaces of cells. People with mutations in the PCSK9 gene have naturally low LDL levels and risk of developing heart disease, Nature News says.

However, it notes that translating that into a drug has been difficult. Still, Forbes says that analysts have had high hopes for evolocumab.

In a study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday, researchers from the FOURIER trial, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multinational clinical trial that drew on 27,564 patients, report that evolocumab lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 59 percent when added to statin therapy. In addition, the trial reported that it reduced risk on a combined measure of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, hospitalization for unstable angina, or coronary revascularization by 15 percent. It likewise reduced combined cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke risk by 20 percent.

According to Forbes, this does not quite meet analysts' expectations, as they'd wanted a 30 percent reduction in risk. This, it says, now raises the question of whether the drug is worth its price, a sentiment Nature News echoes.

"The question now is whether physicians and healthcare payers will consider that benefit great enough to warrant the annual price tag of roughly US$14,000," Nature News adds.