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Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Feb;98(6):e14400. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000014400.

Comparative efficacy and safety of lipid-lowering agents in patients with hypercholesterolemia: A frequentist network meta-analysis.

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Department of Cardiology, Henan Provincial People's Hospital, People's Hospital of Zhengzhou University, China.



The comparative efficacy and safety of PCSK9 inhibitors, statins, and ezetimibe to lower lipid levels in patients with hypercholesterolemia remain unknown. We aimed to investigate the benefits and harms of the lipid-lowering agents in these patients.


PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched from January 1, 2000 to June 1, 2018 for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Frequentist network meta-analysis was used to pool all estimates. Ranking probabilities were used to rank the comparative effects of all drugs against placebo.


Eighty-four RCTs enrolled 246,706 patients were included. Most of the included were assessed as low risk of bias. The probabilities of PCSK9 inhibitors that ranked first in improving lipid outcomes were all 100%. The probability of statins that ranked first in reducing the risk of cardiovascular (CV) events was 60.6%, and the probability of PCSK9 inhibitor was 37.1%, while no significant difference of efficacy in reducing CV events was observed between the 2 agents (odds ratios [OR] 0.98, 95% CI 0.87-1.11). Statin ranked first in reducing all-cause and CV death. Compared with placebo, statins were associated with reduced risks of all-cause (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.85-0.96) and CV death (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.75-0.91) while PCSK9 inhibitors and ezetimibe were not. No agents caused adverse events (including neurocognitive events), except that statins therapy significantly increases the levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.42-2.51) and creatine kinase (CK) (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.09-1.93) and the incidence of diabetes (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.02-1.26).


PCSK9 inhibitors were the most effective lipid-lowering agents in improving lipid levels. Furthermore, PCSK9 inhibitors achieved similar CV benefits like statins, while PCSK9 inhibitors were not associated with any increased risk of statin-related side-effects. Thus, PCSK9 inhibitors may also be recommended as promisingly first-line lipid-lowering treatment for patients with hypercholesterolemia, especially for these with statins intolerance or resistance.

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