AstraZeneca's request is based on a big study called Jupiter, which found the drug reduced the risk of serious heart problems in patients with normal cholesterol but high levels of something called C-reactive protein, or CRP. The company wants FDA approval to use the drug to treat patients like those in the study.
But CRP has yet to join stalwarts like cholesterol and blood pressure as a common measure of cardiovascular risk. "I don't feel we currently evidence for the routine use of [CRP and other new biomarkers] in screening people for risk of heart disease," Thomas Wang, a Mass. General doc, told the Health Blog this summer.
Still, the CRP test might be useful in cases where docs are on the fence about a patient's risk. Indeed, some doctors may already be prescribing Crestor to borderline patients with high CRP levels. And if AstraZeneca gets the new indication it's seeking, don't be surprised if you see a big marketing push aimed at driving up the number of patients who get a CRP test.
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