Esperion CEO: Our new cholesterol drug can help millions of patients

  • Esperion's experimental treatment for lowering cholesterol is poised to help millions of patients, says CEO Tim Mayleben.
  • Earlier this week, the company announced its drug reduced bad cholesterol by 18 percent in a clinical trial. The treatment was used on top of statins, the medicine commonly used to treat high cholesterol.
  • Shares of Esperion popped on the news.

Esperion's experimental treatment for lowering cholesterol is poised to help millions of patients, CEO Tim Mayleben told CNBC on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the company announced its drug, bempedoic acid, reduced bad cholesterol — known as LDL — by 18 percent in a clinical trial. The treatment was used on top of statins, the medicine commonly used to treat high cholesterol.

Mayleben said the idea is to help those who are taking a statin or the maximum dose of a statin that they can tolerate and are not getting their LDL to their goal.

"There is a problem with tolerability with statins, and what we've seen so far in our clinical studies is that bempedoic acid doesn't seem to cause the same muscle aches and pains that statins have been known for," he said in an interview with CNBC's Meg Tirrell on "Power Lunch."

"We know [our new drug] can get 6 or 7 million patients to their goal."

Shares of Esperion popped on the news. The stock is up more than 10 percent since Monday.

About 1 in 3 Americans have high cholesterol, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. Both are leading causes of death in the U.S.

Some patients need a class of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors, which have been shown to dramatically lower LDL levels but tend to be pricey.

However, Mayleben said his company is developing a new drug that can complement statins "for the many, not for the few patients ... who need a specialty drug like PCSK9s."

"Our drugs are really positioned for the many patients, the millions of patients who are taking the maximum dose of a statin they can take but still need additional LDL cholesterol lowering, and in some cases that's no statin at all," he said.

"For those patients we have a convenient, once-daily pill that they can use and get their cholesterol down to their targeted goal."