Cholesterol Drug

Thirty-five million Americans now suffer from high cholesterol, and that's increasing their risk of heart disease. "

As a first step in treatment, doctors usually tell patients to try to control their cholesterol with diet and exercise. But for many patients, that's not always enough.

Now, results from two clinical trials announced at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans show the ingredients in an investigational medicine called Vytorin demonstrated significantly greater LDL, or bad cholesterol reductions compared to the two statins tested.

Ezetimibe, known as Zetia, and Simvastatin, known as Zocor, are the two active ingredients in Vytorin.

Ezetimibe inhibits cholesterol absorption in the intestine, and Simvastatin reduces cholesterol production in the liver.

If approved, Ezetimibe/Simvastatin would offer physicians another approach that has been shown to significantly reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol by targeting the two main cholesterol sources.

A new drug application for Vytorin, from Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts say diet and exercise are the first steps but it is important to talk to your doctor about what treatment plan will best help you fight high cholesterol.