GelTex Burrowing into the statin market

The incidence of heart disease is widely believed to be growing in the U.S., and companies have responded with a number of products designed to lower serum cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. GelTex Pharmaceuticals Inc. 's Welchol colesevelam, a non-absorbed binder, will enter this crowded market following last week's FDA approval for use in patients with hypercholesterolemia.

But the company does not see the drug as replacing statins such as Zocor and Lipitor . Marketing partner Sankyo Parke Davis will highlight Welchol's indication for concomitant use with statins and as a monotherapy for those who cannot take statins, and for younger patients who may be skeptical about taking a systemic therapy chronically.

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins, serve the bulk of the population with high cholesterol. But other products, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. 's Questran cholestyramine powder, another non-absorbed binder, compete with each other to treat the 5-10

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