Commenting on the decision to stop the trial, Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that "these findings highlight the critical importance of basing treatment decisions on well-powered, randomized clinical outcome trials rather than on surrogate endpoints like changes in lipid [blood fat] levels or imaging studies."
Statin therapy has been proven in trial after trial to reduce fatal and not-fatal cardiovascular events in patients with -- and at risk for -- cardiovascular events, he said.
"However, many clinicians have been led to believe that the so-called 'residual risk' of cardiovascular events that remained after statin therapy could be addressed with therapies like niacin added to statin therapy to raise HDL and lower triglycerides," Fonarow said.
But this trial has demonstrated no added reduction in cardiovascular events with this strategy. "A prior trial, ACCORD, showed no benefit with the addition of TriCor, which reduces triglycerides, to statin therapy. Together these trials challenge that concept that raising HDL and lowering triglycerides is beneficial," Fonarow said.
Niaspan's maker looked at the results more positively.
The study results "affirmed the positive impact of Niaspan on HDL and triglyceride lipid [blood fat] values. Previous studies support HDL as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Abbott said in a statement.
For more information on cholesterol, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; May 26, 2011, teleconference with: Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director, U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; statement, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.
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