New developments for well-known drugs

(NBC) - There's new developments for two well known drugs that may be in your medicine cabinet.

While widely prescribed to shrink the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate called BPH, Avodart has an added benefit.  It reduces the risk of prostate cancer by almost 24 percent in a 4-year period.

Drug giant Glaxo Smith Kline, which makes Avodart, is asking the FDA to allow sales for a new use, which is to reduce cancer risk.

There are also new headlines on an even more popular class of drugs  -- cholesterol reducing statins.

The FDA is allowing Astra Zeneca to market its blockbuster drug Crestor to millions of people who have normal levels of cholesterol.  Under the new rules, the drug can be sold to people who have high levels of C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation which studies show can increase risk of heart disease.

"A quarter of a million heart attacks, strokes, bypass surgeries, angioplasties and cardiovascular deaths could be avoided if the strategy of-- that was tested here was actually used over a fiver year period," said Dr. Paul Ridker, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Some doctors are urging caution with the expanded use of both drugs.  Like all medications, they have side effects which may outweigh the benefits for healthy people.

These new FDA rules could bring millions in new profits for both companies, but there is a generic option for both.

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