A major American health insurer is warning that some of its cholesterol pills, which target people with the high cholesterol levels, may not be enough to stop the spread of the disease.
A review of the studies conducted in the U.S. and around the world found that the drugs have been linked to heart attacks and strokes, and many of the trials failed to find a single drug that reduced cholesterol.
The drugmaker Aetna announced Thursday that it will stop making the cholesterol-lowering pills.
The announcement comes as health officials warn that the use of cholesterol-reducing pills is rising rapidly among people with high cholesterol, and some have become addicted to them.
The drugs can be a lifesaver for some people with heart disease, and the new study could lead to a backlash against the drugs.
“We are concerned about the possible negative impact on patients, especially those with chronic heart disease,” said Dr. David H. Bernstein, vice president of product development for Aetana, the second-largest drugmaker in the United States.
“We believe that people with chronic diseases deserve the most effective medication available.”
Bernstein said the drugs are intended to treat the underlying causes of heart disease in people with normal cholesterol levels.
Aetax is also working on another cholesterol pill, but it is not scheduled to be released until 2019.
People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease if they have cholesterol levels of about 200 to 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), according to a review published last year by the American Heart Association.
People who have high cholesterol are also more likely than people without high cholesterol to die from heart attacks or strokes.
About 8% of adults and about 1 in 8 children and teenagers in the world have high blood cholesterol, according to the World Health Organization.
About 10% of American adults have high levels of cholesterol, which can increase a person’s risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular disease.
The new study found that people who took the cholesterol pills were more likely — but not the same as — those who did not.
About 12% of the people taking the cholesterol pill had elevated cholesterol levels compared to 2% of people taking a cholesterol pill without a cholesterol supplement, the study found.
In the first trial, people taking one pill of the cholesterol drug did not see any adverse effects.
The second trial showed a similar pattern, with people taking two or more pills showing higher cholesterol levels than people taking just one pill.
Aetna said in a statement that it does not believe that lowering cholesterol levels is the best way to reduce heart disease.
“People with a healthy diet and regular exercise can maintain a healthy weight and keep their cholesterol under control,” the statement said.
“But if people with elevated cholesterol are not getting the right medication, then the medication is ineffective.
We do not believe it is the right approach.”
Hans Pfleger, chief medical officer of Aetnal, said in an interview that while he agrees with Aetaans concerns about the potential harms of lowering cholesterol, he did not think the company would make the change.
He said that the drugmaker was trying to use the new results to warn doctors of the need for more clinical trials.
“It’s a very good indication of the importance of continuing clinical trials and getting the results to the doctors,” Pflegers said.
The company did not provide any specific numbers about how many people were affected by the change, and its results were not immediately available.
The cholesterol pills have become a hot topic in recent years as doctors and researchers grapple with how to prevent heart attacks among people who have elevated cholesterol.
Studies have shown that some people who take the cholesterol drugs do not get the full benefit of lowering their cholesterol levels in a way that will reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.
A recent analysis of the pills by the U-M School of Public Health found that those who took two or three pills had the highest risk of having a heart attacks.
The study did not say whether that was because people who had high cholesterol were taking the pills and not receiving any other drugs.
Other studies have found that some patients who take cholesterol pills can have trouble managing their cholesterol, with some studies showing they had heart attacks sooner than expected.
Some of the new studies, however, did not find any benefit for people who were taking one drug or the other.
The study of the first pill, led by a team at Boston Children’s Hospital, found that taking two pills reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by about 1.5%.
But the results of the study of three pills, led the Boston Childrens Study, were not statistically significant.
In a new study, a group of researchers led by the University of Washington found that patients who took three pills of the drug did have lower levels of heart attack risk, but the new data did not show that they were more vulnerable than people who did none