Achieving lipoprotein goals in patients at high risk with severe hypercholesterolemia: efficacy and safety of ezetimibe co-administered with atorvastatin

Evan Stein, Steen Stender, Pedro Mata, Philip Sager, Damien Ponsonnet, Lorenzo Melani, Leslie Lipka, Ramachandran Suresh, Darbie Maccubbin, Enrico Veltri et al.
American Heart Journal 2004, 148 (3): 447-55

BACKGROUND: Despite the efficacy of statins in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, many patients who are at high risk for heart disease with hypercholesterolemia require additional LDL-C level reduction. The cholesterol absorption inhibitor, ezetimibe, has been shown to provide significant incremental reductions in LDL-C levels when co-administered with statins. This study was performed to compare the efficacy and safety of ezetimibe (10 mg) plus response-based atorvastatin titration versus response-based atorvastatin titration alone in the attainment of LDL-C goals in subjects who are at high risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and are not at their LDL-C goal on the starting dose of atorvastatin.

METHODS: This was a 14-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, active-controlled study conducted in 113 clinical research centers in 21 countries. Participants were adults with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), CHD, or multiple (> or =2) cardiovascular risk factors, and a LDL-C level > or =130 mg/dL after a 6- to 10-week dietary stabilization and atorvastatin (10 mg/day) open-label run-in period. Eligible subjects continued to receive atorvastatin (10 mg) and were randomized to receive blinded treatment with ezetimibe (10 mg/day; n = 305) or an additional 10 mg/day of atorvastatin (n = 316). The atorvastatin dose in both groups was doubled after 4 weeks, 9 weeks, or both when the LDL-C level was not at its goal (< or =100 mg/dL), so that patients receiving combined therapy could reach 40 mg/day and patients receiving atorvastatin alone could reach 80 mg/day. The primary end point was the proportion of subjects achieving their LDL-C level goal at week 14. A secondary end point was the change in LDL-C level and other lipid parameters at 4 weeks after ezetimibe co-administration with 10 mg/day of atorvastatin versus 20 mg/day of atorvastatin monotherapy.

RESULTS: The proportion of subjects reaching their target LDL-C level goal of < or =100 mg/dL was significantly higher in the co-administration group than in the atorvastatin monotherapy group (22% vs 7%; P <.01). At 4 weeks, levels of LDL-C, triglycerides, and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were reduced significantly more by combination therapy than by doubling the dose of atorvastatin (LDL-C -22.8% versus -8.6%; P <.01). The combination regimen had a safety and tolerability profile similar to that of atorvastatin alone.

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of ezetimibe to the starting dose of 10 mg/day of atorvastatin followed by response-based atorvastatin dose titration to a maximum of 40 mg/day provides a more effective means for reducing LDL-C levels in patients at high risk for CHD than continued doubling of atorvastatin as high as 80 mg/day alone.

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