Recent Crestor™ Studies in the Headlines

In the last couple of weeks (November, 2008), the news everywhere has been trumpeting Crestor™ as a new wonder drug. "Heart attacks were cut by 54%, strokes by 48% and the need for angioplasty or bypass by 46% among the group on Crestor compared to those taking a placebo or dummy pill" was a typical statement. This is the same Crestor that we wrote about in 2004, informing you about potential problems resulting from its consumption. AstraZeneca Shares gained 4.1 percent, boosted by news that its Crestor drug dramatically reduces the risk of deaths, heart attacks and strokes. So is what's good for shareholders also good for your health?

First, lets take a look at the study (reference 1). The trial named "Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin" (JUPITER). The question this trial set out to answer, was whether Rosuvastatin (Crestor™) would lower the rate of cardiovascular events in patients who have normal cholesterol levels, but elevated CRP (C- Reactive Protein) levels. Some research has indicated that CRP may be an independent (of cholesterol levels) predictor of heart disease. This may be useful (if indeed it were to be proven a valid predictor of heart disease), since (reference 1) "half of all myocardial infarctions and strokes occur among apparently healthy men and women with levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that are below currently recommended thresholds for treatment".

JUPITER was a randomized study, that was double blind conducted at 1315 sites in 26 countries. We note that the trial was financially supported by Astra-Zeneca, maker of Crestor™. The trial organizers are quick to point out that Astra-Zeneca had no access to the results or the manuscript till after publication. The population included in the trial were men (50 and older) and women (60 and older) who had LDL cholesterol levels below 130 miligram per deciliter, and a "high-sensitivity C-reactive protein" level of 2.0 miligram per liter or more. A formidable number of 17,802 participant received either 20 mg rosuvastatin daily, or a placebo. The trial was scheduled to continue for 5 years. Patients were specifically monitored for major cardiovascular events such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, hospitalization for unstable angina, and more.

The trial was terminated early, after less than 2 years, by its independent "data and safety monitoring board", having decided that it had enough statistically significant results to determine the outcome. Indeed, those taking Crestor™ had their risk for any cardiovascular event reduced by 44% (Margin of Error between 31% to 54%). The risk for a heart attack was reduced by 54% (Margin of Error between 30% to 70%) and stroke - 48% (Margin of Error between 21% to 66%). But before you rush to your physician to demand statins (of which Crestor™ is just one), please read the rest of the story.


Last Modification - Update - November 15, 2008