Abimbola Farinde, Pharm.D., is a clinical pharmacist specialist with specializations in psychopharmacology and geriatrics.
In an effort to increase the probability of effectively treating hyperlipidemia, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved another lipid lowering agent, Merck’s Liptruzet (ezetimibe and atorvastatin). The approval of this “me-too” drug adds to the growing list of available therapeutic options that specifically target the management of primary or mixed hyperlipidemia as an adjunctive therapy to diet when diet alone does not successfully lower cholesterol.
The novel approach that is taken with the production of Liptruzet is its combination medication that targets cholesterol through two sources—the inhibition of both the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract (ezetimibe) and the production of cholesterol in the liver (atorvastatin). This approach is believed to improve the likelihood of achieving positive therapeutic outcomes with cholesterol management versus monotherapy. As it currently stands, there are variety of agents on the market that are designed to lower lipid levels, each possessing its own distinctive mechanism of action to either target low density liproprotein, high density lipoprotein, triglycerides, or total cholesterol with varying degrees of effect.
While some may view the development of Liptruzet and approval by FDA as another act that reaffirms the goal to provide safe and effective therapies to the general population, others may view this approval as another agent being added to an already saturated drug market of “me-too” drugs. In the end, the final decision to initiate these drug therapies rests with the collaboration between the provider and the patient and an assessment of the risks versus benefits of initiating therapy.