Q. Recently I heard a suggestion that niacin would be better and cheaper than Vytorin for lowering cholesterol. I know there has not been an extensive study on this. I exercise and watch my diet pretty well and wonder if I might be better off on niacin. Would I need a prescription?
A. The study you heard about was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on November 26, 2009. Niacin was compared to ezetimibe (Zetia), one part of the combination medicine Vytorin. All 200 of the patients in the completed study took a statin cholesterol-lowering drug, but some took prescription niacin and others took Zetia in addition. Niacin worked better than Zetia for cardiovascular health.
Niacin has more than 50 years of successful use against high cholesterol. We discuss the benefits and risks of niacin along with other drugs and natural approaches in our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health. Although niacin can be purchased without a prescription, we believe it should only be used under medical supervision.
The photo shows a high-fat, high-cholesterol meal and should not be construed as a recommendation.