* Statins reduce asthma hospitalizations in study
* Asthma-related hospitalization, ER visits down by 33 pct
By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK, March 14 Asthma sufferers taking
statins in addition to their regular medicine required
significantly fewer trips to the hospital, according to a study
the provides the latest suggestion of added benefits from the
widely-used cholesterol lowering drugs.
Among adults on inhaled corticosteroids in the
6,574-patient study, those also taking statins reduced their
chances of an asthma-related hospitalization or emergency room
visit by 33 percent, according to data presented at the
American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology meeting in
Washington on Saturday.
The study was conducted by researchers from Medco Health
Solutions Inc MHS.N and Boston's Brigham and Women's
"The implications of this study are exciting because they
point to the potential role statins could play in helping
prevent the most serious asthma attacks that land patients in
the hospital," Dr Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical
officer, said in a statement.
"There has been heightened interest in how the
anti-inflammatory power of statins might benefit asthma
patients," said Epstein, who cautioned that the findings are
preliminary and will require further clinical studies.
Statins, including Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) Lipitor, lower
levels of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood and have been shown
to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. They have also
demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties that could play a
role in helping with asthma and other diseases.
A recent study of AstraZeneca Plc's (AZN.L) powerful statin
Crestor showed it dramatically reduced incidence of heart
attack, stroke and death after just two years in patients with
healthy cholesterol levels but increased C-reactive protein, an
indicator of arterial inflammation.
Other studies have suggested that statins may reduce the
risk of dying from pneumonia or developing dangerous blood
clots and the possibility of protecting against Alzheimer's
If the asthma results pan out, statins -- already the
world's most widely used prescription medicines -- could
eventually help to further cut health care costs.
Asthma is caused by inflammation and swelling of the
airways and constriction of the muscles of the bronchial
There are half a million asthma-related hospitalizations
and 217,000 emergency room visits in the United States each
year. U.S. hospital care costs for the chronic respiratory
disease reached $4.7 billion in 2007, according to Medco.
The year-long study involved patients who were prescribed
inhaled corticosteroid therapy for asthma in 2006 and had one
or more asthma-related hospitalizations or emergency room
visits in the previous 12 months.
The incidence of a recurrent hospitalization or ER visits
was 29.4 percent for those not taking a statin but fell to
20.5 percent for those patients on a cholesterol fighter,
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)