Statin Therapy Associated With Lower Risk of Pancreatitis

There is a lower risk of pancreatitis in patients with normal or mildly elevated triglyceride levels who are treated with statin therapy, according to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Aug. 21.


The study, which was based on pooled randomized trial data, found that statin therapy was associated with a reduction in the number of patients developing pancreatitis. Specifically, in 16 placebo- and standard care–controlled statin trials with 113,800 participants, 309 participants developed pancreatitis (134 assigned to statin, 175 assigned to control), while in 5 dose-comparison statin trials with 39,614 participants, 156 participants developed pancreatitis (70 assigned to intensive dose, 86 assigned to moderate dose). The authors noted "broadly similar results" for statin compared with placebo as well as for intensive dose statin therapy compared with moderate-dose therapy, in keeping with a dose-dependent association.


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While the risk of developing pancreatitis was reduced in patients treated with statins, the study was not able to establish an association between fibrate therapy and risk of pancreatitis. "It remains possible, however, that fibrates might have a different net effect in patients with higher triglyceride levels," the study authors note.


The authors also point out that this research "raises questions regarding the choice of lipid-modifying agents in patients with hypertriglyceridemia." They suggest that a trial comparing fibrates and statins for preventing pancreatitis in these patients would be of clinical value.

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