The idea of using cholesterol lowering drugs, called statins, to combat pandemic flu has been around for some time.
Dr. David Fedson was probably the first to champion the idea. In his paper on the subject, published in July of 2006, Dr. Fedson wrote:
David S. Fedsona
The next influenza pandemic may be imminent. Because antiviral agents and vaccines will be unavailable to people in most countries, we need to determine whether other agents could offer clinical benefits. Influenza is associated with an increase in acute cardiovascular diseases, and influenza viruses induce proinflammatory cytokines.
Statins are cardioprotective and have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, and they thus might benefit patients with influenza.
Earlier this year Australian researchers announced preliminary results from their studies on Fibrates, another class of cholesterol lowering drugs, for use in reducing the inflammatory response from influenza.
Today, Reuters is reporting on a new study out of Denmark that followed nearly 30,000 pneumonia patients, and discovered that the survival rate among those taking statins was significantly higher than those not taking the drug.
27 Oct 2008 20:00:13 GMT
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Cholesterol-fighting drugs known as statins reduced the risk of dying from pneumonia or developing dangerous blood clots in the legs, adding to a growing list of benefits from the popular drugs, two research groups said on Monday.
Statins, the world's top-selling drugs, cut heart attack and stroke risk, and research has suggested other benefits including possibly protecting against Alzheimer's disease.
Some studies have linked statin use with decreased risk of severe sepsis -- infection of the bloodstream -- or death associated with infections, but there had been conflicting findings on pneumonia, according to Dr. Reimar Thomsen of Aarhus University and Aalborg Hospital in Denmark.
Thomsen led a new study tracking 29,900 patients treated for pneumonia in Denmark that found that those who were taking statins before hospitalization had a 31 percent lower risk of dying from pneumonia than those who were not.
In this study, patients were already on statins when they developed pneumonia. How this would translate to use during a pandemic, where the drug presumably wouldn't be administered until someone showed signs of illness, is unknown.
It does, however, fit in with the general idea advanced by Dr. Fedson that statins might improve patient survivability during a pandemic.
Another small, but intriguing, piece of the puzzle.