News of the WeekPUBLIC HEALTH

U.S. Panel Favors Wider Use Of Preventive Drug Treatment

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Science  08 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5962, pp. 130-131
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5962.130

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If regulators agree, the pool of people in the United States eligible for cholesterol-lowering drugs could soon expand dramatically to include as many as 6 million people whose cholesterol levels fall within a normal range. The potential boon to drugmakers and preventive health care came from an advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The panel last month endorsed a wider use for Crestor, a statin manufactured by AstraZeneca. The decision, which could affect other statins too, raises tough questions: Who should get potentially risky medications to cut the chance of a deadly disease? And how many healthy people is it reasonable to treat to avoid one heart attack?