Remington has become the latest company to introduce a cholesterol-lowering alternative to statin drugs, which can cause potentially serious side effects.
Qwell is a liquid product available without prescription that contains three active ingredients - policosanol, phytosterols and soluble fiber - each one believed to possess cholesterol-lowering properties in its own right.
The cardiovascular benefits of phytosterols have been recognized by the FDA and in 2003 it extended permission for a broader range of food products and dietary supplements, containing at least 0.65 grams of phytosterol esters or 0.4 grams free phytosterols per serving, to be labeled as "heart healthy".
The medicinal properties of policosanol have been exploited in China and South America for many years. Its ability to lower LDL (low density lioprotein, or "bad cholesterol") and raise HDL (high-density lipoproteins or "good cholesterol") has been substantiated by numerous scientific tests, says the company
Remington also claims the liquid format of its product helps the body absorb the ingredients more quickly since, unlike with pills and tablets, there is no need for it to dissolve.
Demand for sterols has mushroomed in the last two years. Earlier this month Canadian sterols manufacturer Forbes Medi-Tech announced that it is looking forward to a prosperous 2005 largely thanks to a US$24.4 million sterol shipment agreement with a major multinational ingredient company.
In December Forbes completed the expansion of its facility in Pasadena, Texas, from a capacity of 1000 to 1500 metric tonnes per year.
Greater quantities of policosanol are now available to formulators at cheaper prices than before, thanks to Unigen's patented process of extracting the commodity from insects. Until now, the main source of policosanol has been sugar cane, which yields relatively small amounts through an expensive extraction and purification process.
According to the American Heart Association, 70.1 million Americans suffer from one or more type of cardiovascular disease.
Known side effects of statins include liver and digestive tract problems, hepatitis and a muscle-damaging condition called rhabdomyolysis.