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ATHENS, Ga. — A drug used to treat high cholesterol, which will lose patent protection and face generic competition starting this year, also may help prevent blindness in people with diabetes, according to a study by researchers at the University of Georgia.
The researchers, led by pharmacy professor Azza El-Remessy, administered Pfizer’s drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) to diabetic rats, finding that it prevented free radicals in the retina from destroying nerves that help maintain vision. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in adults and usually occurs after they have had diabetes for 10 years or more.
“The exciting part is that there are now treatment options that are proven to be safe that can be immediately translated to patients,” El-Remessy said.
Study results will appear in the March edition of the journal Diabetologia.