Good news for makers of cholesterol meds: The market has just expanded. For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that kids as young as 8 years old be given cholesterol drugs in hopes of preventing future heart disease. The influential doctors' group also wants doctors to routinely test young children's cholesterol levels, which isn't commonly done now. That testing would identify kids in need of drug therapy.
The AAP says its advice is based on new evidence showing that greater heart-disease risks begin developing early in life. Previously, the group had advised consideration of the drugs if kids older than 10 had tried and failed to lose weight.
Four statins are FDA-approved for pediatric use (with some age and developmental caveats): Mevacor, or lovastatin; Zocor, or simvastatin; Pravachol, or pravastatin; and Lipitor, or atorvastatin. Of those, only Pfizer's Lipitor remains on patent. But doctors could of course choose other branded meds for kids off-label.