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Ezetimibe-statin combination therapy efficacy and safety as compared with statin monotherapy-a systematic review

Introduction: To date, most clinical comparisons of ezetimibe-statin combination therapy versus statin monotherapy have relied entirely on surrogate variables. In this systematic review, we study the efficacy and safety of ezetimibe-statin combination therapy in comparison to statin monotherapy in terms of the prevention of cardiovascular events in hyperlipidemic patients with atherosclerosis and/or diabetes mellitus.

Method: This review is based on a systematic literature search (1995 to July 2015) in PubMed, the Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), the Cochrane Library, and the ClinicalTrials.gov registry.

Results: Nine randomized, controlled trials with data from a total of 19 461 patients were included. Ezetimibe-statin combination therapy was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events than statin monotherapy: 33% of the patients treated with ezetimibe and a statin, and 35% of those treated with a statin alone, had a cardiovascular event within seven years (number needed to treat [NNT]: 50 over 7 years). Combination therapy was also significantly more effective in preventing a composite endpoint consisting of death due to cardiovascular disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction, unstable angina pectoris, coronary revascularization, and nonfatal stroke (hazard ratio [HR] 0.94, 95% confidence interval [0,89; 0,99]; p = 0.016). Diabetic patients benefited from combination therapy rather than monotherapy with respect to cardiovascular morbidity (HR 0.87 [0.78; 0.94]). On the other hand, the addition of ezetimibe to statin therapy did not lessen either cardiovascular or overall mortality. Serious undesired events occurred in 38% of the patients taking ezetimibe and a statin and in 39% of the patients taking a statin alone (relative risk 1.09 [0.77; 1.55]).

Conclusion: In high-risk patients with an acute coronary syndrome, combination therapy with ezetimibe and a statin lowered the risk of cardiovascular events in comparison to statin monotherapy. The risk of dying or suffering an adverse drug effect was similar in the two treatment groups.


Nussbaumer, B., Glechner, A., Kaminski-Hartenthaler, A., Mahlknecht, P., & Gartlehner, G. (2016). Ezetimibe-statin combination therapy efficacy and safety as compared with statin monotherapy-a systematic review. Deutsches Ärzteblatt international, 113(26), 445-453. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2016.0445

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