Extended-release niacin for modifying the lipoprotein profile.
Niacin (nicotinic acid) favourably modifies all aspects of the lipoprotein profile; it raises high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, lowers triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and lipoprotein(a) levels and reduces atherogenic small, dense LDL particles. One large monotherapy trial and multiple trials of niacin in combination with other lipid-modifying drugs show remarkable consistency in the ability of niacin to improve angiographic and clinical outcomes. In practice, however, the use of regular, immediate-release niacin (niacin IR) has been limited by the side effect of flushing. Sustained-release (SR) formulations, developed in order to reduce flushing, were found to cause serious hepatotoxicity at varying frequencies. Extended-release niacin (niacin ER; Niaspan), Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) is a prescription formulation of niacin, administered once-daily at bedtime. Niacin ER is as effective in modifying lipoprotein levels as an equal daily dose of niacin IR and it causes less flushing. In addition, niacin ER administered once-daily is not associated with the increased hepatotoxicity reported with SR formulations. Niacin ER has been studied extensively in combination therapy with statins, including lovastatin in a recently introduced combination tablet. Myopathy has not been a substantial problem in statin/niacin ER combination therapy. Finally, a study of niacin ER given to diabetic patients showed only mild trends towards increased glycosylated haemoglobin concentrations and a need for additional antidiabetic medication. Thus, niacin ER represents an effective and safe option in the management of low levels of HDL-C and other lipoprotein abnormalities in a variety of settings.
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