Cholesterol Fighter Taken to Heart

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Today's New England Journal of Medicine reports that Canadian doctors have found that the controversial drug probucol halves the need for repeat angioplasties, which are given to 20 percent of the 1 million people who undergo the proceedure each year. The $16,000 surgery is often repeated within a few months because of reclogging.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might be reluctant to green-light the drug. That's because the FDA's pressure prompted Hoechst-Marion-Roussel to pull probucol from the market two years ago: The drug lowers the body's levels of artery-protecting "good" cholesterol by 40 percent, a definite drawback.