Across the world, 10 May is National Lipid Day – a day to create awareness of dyslipidemia. According to key opinion leaders interviewed by GlobalData, one of the important unmet needs in the dyslipidemia space is patient education. National Lipid Day helps raise awareness for this disease and its risk factors, allowing for the early detection and management of the disease, which can help improve outcomes and reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases associated with dyslipidemia.

Dyslipidemia is characterised by abnormal levels of plasma cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood, which significantly increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. High lipid levels contribute to the formation of atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arterial walls, leading to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. This condition restricts blood flow to the heart and other organs, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Furthermore, elevated lipid levels are associated with pancreatitis and metabolic syndrome.

Several risk factors can contribute to the development of dyslipidemia, including consuming a diet high in saturated fats. Obesity is another risk factor since being overweight can lead to elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Genetics also play a role in dyslipidemia, causing familial hypercholesterolemia, which leads to high levels of LDL cholesterol. Patients with diabetes have an increased risk of developing dyslipidemia, as high glucose levels affect the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Dyslipidemia can often be managed through lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and, if necessary, taking medication prescribed by a healthcare professional. Regular monitoring of lipid levels and working closely with a healthcare provider are essential to reduce the risks associated with dyslipidemia.

The standard of care for dyslipidemia is statins, with annual global sales of Viatris’s Lipitor (atorvastatin) reaching $1.7bn in 2022, despite the drug’s patent expiration in 2016. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors are a new class in the dyslipidemia space, with annual global sales of Regeneron and Sanofi’s Praluent (alirocumab) set to reach $790m in 2028, after a 2015 drug launch. However, despite being an efficacious drug, PCSK9 inhibitors have struggled to capture a large patient share due to their high cost. GlobalData forecasts that nine pipeline drugs are expected to be launched for dyslipidemia within the next ten years.

Dyslipidemia does not often present noticeable symptoms. Therefore, individuals may be unaware of their condition until they experience a cardiovascular event. Promoting awareness aims to increase the number of individuals who undergo regular lipid profile screening. This will allow for the early detection of dyslipidemia, resulting in better management of lipid levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.