"The people who would be the candidates for over-the-counter Mevacor are people who have had blood tests and know they have elevated cholesterol that should be treated," said Merck spokesman Ron Rodgers.
The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics released a survey this week that found, for the first time since the survey began in 1960, the average total cholesterol level among American adults is in the ideal range. The average level in 2005-2006 was 199, according to the survey of about 4,500 people 20 and older. A level of 200 or less is desirable.
The growing use of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins by middle-aged and older people is believed to be a big reason for the improvement. Cholesterol medications are the top-selling class of U.S. drugs, and sales have grown steadily from about $13 billion in 2002 to nearly $22 billion in 2006, according to IMS Health, a Connecticut-based consulting company that monitors pharmaceutical sales, the Associated Press reported.
For more on cholesterol-lowering medicines, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians.
SOURCES: Steven E. Nissen, M.D., chairman, department of cardiovascular medicine, Cleveland Clinic; Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D., director, Health Research Group of Public Citizen, Washington, D.C.; Ron Rodgers, spokesman, Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, N.J.; Antonio M. Gotto Jr., M.D., dean and professor, medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, and former president, American Heart Association; statement, American Medical Association; statement
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