More People Could Benefit From Statins
Study Shows Lipid-Lowering Drugs Cost-effective for Most Patients
Nov. 9, 2006 -- Cholesterol-lowering statin therapy is both beneficial and cost-effective for a wider range of the population than has previously been treated with the drugs, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Oxford who conducted a cost analysis of statins concluded that even people with relatively low heart attack or stroke should be considered for treatment.
They found treatment with a generic statin to be cost-effective, even for people as young as 35 or as old as 85, whose annual risk of having a major heart or stroke event was as little as 1%.
This is well below the treatment threshold normally recommended in Europe and the U.S.
"We know that statins are very effective for reducing the risks associated with cardiovascular disease," senior researcher Jane Armitage of the Heart Protection Study tells WebMD. "As these drugs come off patent and become cheaper, they should be considered for a wider population."
Generic Choices Growing
Millions of people currently take statin drugs like Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Pravachol, or Zocor to lower their LDL "bad" cholesterol and reduce their risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event.
Two new generic versions of the drugs recently became available in the U.S. Zocor is now sold generically as simvastatin and Pravachol is sold generically as pravastatin. The generic statin lovastatin is also widely prescribed.
According to a recent investigation from the Consumers Union, which publishes the magazine Consumer Reports, generic statins could save patients in the U.S. as much as $1,800 per year.
The UK Heart Protection Study included 20,536 patients with heart disease, other disease with artery blockage such as stroke, or diabetes who were treated for an average of five years with 40 milligrams daily of simvastatin or placebo. Study participants ranged in age from 40 to 80.
Last year, Armitage and colleagues reported that treatment for several years was cost-effective for a wide range of people with established heart disease, stroke, or diabetes when cheaper, generic statins are used.
Using data from the study, the researchers estimated the lifetime cost-effectiveness of statin use among people who were both younger and healthier than the people recruited for the study.