One more benefit has been attributed to the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor: it has been shown to reduce angina, or chest pains. But reaction from cardiologists to the news was mixed, with some saying the drug should have been compared with cheaper varieties of statins, the group of drugs that includes Lipitor. Private practitioners called for heart-disease patients to be routinely given statins, while a public doctors' leader said the verdict was still out on whether the more expensive statin, Lipitor, meant better care. Private cardiologist Bernard Wong Bun-lap said a study unveiled at an American College of Cardiology conference in April showed Lipitor's effectiveness in reducing angina while also lowering cholesterol levels. 'So I believe we can make a good reference of that,' Dr Wong told a press briefing. Ho Chak-min, 60, a patient of Dr Wong who has taken Lipitor and undergone a balloon angioplasty, said: 'Before medication and the surgery, I would feel dizzy and have a fast heartbeat. I was afraid of being in a crowd.' Lipitor, manufactured by Pfizer, costs HK$8 to HK$10 a day at private clinics and is on the Hospital Authority's standard list of subsidised drugs. Statins have to be taken for life. In the study partly funded by Pfizer, University College of London researchers examined 311 coronary-disease patients, aged between 21 and 80, who experienced at least two episodes of angina pain every week. The patients were divided into three groups: one given Lipitor, another given an anti-hypertension drug, Amlodipine, and the third a combination of the two. After 26 weeks, the episodes of angina pain had fallen 66 per cent in those given Lipitor. But Public Doctors' Association president Duncan Ho Hung-kwong, a cardiologist, said the study should have compared Lipitor with the cheaper generic drug Zocor, or simvastatin, used in public hospitals in Hong Kong. He said there was 'marginal effect' in giving patients Lipitor, which cost 10 times as much as Zocor. Patrick Ko Tak-him, past president of the Hong Kong College of Cardiology, said he did not believe one statin was superior to the four or five others available in Hong Kong. Dr Ko said: 'Statins should be given more commonly but, like in the UK or Europe, Hong Kong patients are being undertreated.' Cardiovascular disease is the second-biggest cause of death in Hong Kong, claiming more than 5,600 lives in 2006. The city has about 400,000 patients with cardiovascular disease.