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DISCOVERIES | LOW CHOLESTEROL

Statin drug Crestor causes slightly more problems than others

Crestor, the newest of the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, leads to more side effects than earlier generation drugs but remains generally safe, researchers from Tufts-New England Medical Center reported yesterday. The authors of that study, which appeared in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, compared the safety record of Crestor with that of three other statins: Lipitor, Zocor, and Pravachol. The researchers analyzed 145 reports of adverse events linked to Crestor during its first year of sales, when 5 million prescriptions for the drug were filled. The most serious reactions resulted in kidney and muscle damage. ''Although [Crestor] was found to be less safe than others, it does not mean patients should immediately stop taking this medication," the lead author of the study, Dr. Richard H. Karas, stated in a release. ''In fact, the overall risks of [Crestor] remain low." The Tufts study appeared to conflict with another review of Crestor, performed by the US Food and Drug Administration, that found it posed no higher risk than other statins. Karas, like most researchers in cardiology, has accepted research grants and speaker fees from drug companies, including AstraZeneca, the maker of Crestor.

STEPHEN SMITH AND ASSOCIATED PRESS

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