A cholesterol drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) and Sanofi (SNY) reduced patients’ risk of death in a major clinical trial, giving the companies a boost over rival Amgen (AMGN) and stoking hopes that the costly medicine might finally find commercial success.

The treatment, called Praluent, reduced the risk of death by 15 percent in a study involving 18,000 high-risk patients who had uncontrolled cholesterol despite taking a maximum amount of statins like Lipitor. In the three-year study, patients taking Praluent were 15 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or hospitalization than those on placebo.

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  • “…patients taking Praluent were 15 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or hospitalization…” Fifteen percent of what? This is a relative risk reduction that tells me very little and often overstates the benefits. You ought to be reporting the drug’s benefits on an absolute basis or, alternatively, in terms of the number needed to be treated for one person to benefit.

  • Will there be a study on the effect of this drug on dementia? Statins, in particular the more hydrophobic statins, increase dementia risk. This is not entirely surprising. The brain and spinal cord are the most cholesterol-rich tissues in the body. The commercial source of cholesterol (used in vitamin D manufacture and cosmetics, among other things) is the brain and spinal cords of cattle.

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