Monday, November 16, 2009

Niacin scores

A couple of newsy bits today...the drug Zetia appears to be no better than niacin at reducing cardiovascular events in patient with high cholesterol and may even be worse at protecting against plaque build up. Although the small study conducted by Abbott (who make the version of niacin used in the study) cannot be considered definitive, it does create more uncertainty about the use of Zetia and the related drug Vytorin. Despite the news, Merck's shares are on the rise, partly because analysts has expected even worse news with the study, and partly because the NEJM has said the study was flawed. If it was me, I would probably opt for the niacin anyway.
Scientists are hoping to improve the body's ability to take up curcumin, the yellow ingredient in curry that has shown potential to fight several diseases including Alzheimer's, cancer and psoriasis, A recent report shows that encapsulation of the curcumin into liposomes protects the chemical from breakdown during digestion and increases their anti-oxidant activity in rats. Several of my Indian friends swear by the healing actions of turmeric, the bright yellow powder used in curries that is is rich in curcumin. Time will tell whether the rat results translate to humans, but I'm upping my curry intake anyway (any excuse...).
As drug makers put up the price of brand name drugs today, some of these more natural options are looking more and more appealing.

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