Statins Are Being Underused as Cholesterol-Lowering Therapy

Approximately half of patients prescribed statins for lowering cholesterol discontinue use within the first year and the adherence rate only goes down from there.

Approximately half of patients prescribed statins for lowering cholesterol discontinue use within the first year and the adherence rate only goes down from there, according to 2 studies of commercially insured members with a diagnosis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Prime Therapeutics presented the results of the studies at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Nexus event in Orlando, Florida.

Of the patients with ASCVD, 20% were adherent to high intensity statin therapy and 27% had no statin claim in 2014, despite the fact that the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association updated guidelines in 2013 to recommend high intensity statin therapy for almost all patients with ASCVD.

According to Prime, its GuidedHealth program identified members with ASCVD who were not taking a statin or not adherent to their prescription. The next step after statins fail to improve health could be the pricey PCSK9 inhibitors, which will cost at least $14,000 per year. According to Prime, encouraging patients to take statins as prescribed could help improve their health at a cost of just pennies per day.

“With an average total claims cost of $56,233 associated with a [coronary heart disease] event, our research shows there is significant opportunity for members to become more adherent to lower-cost statin therapies that will help avoid these events,” Kevin Bowen, MD, MBA, principal health outcomes researcher at Prime, said in a statement. “These two studies underscore the importance of targeting patients with established ASCVD to identify statin underuse and the subsequent health care costs of leaving elevated cholesterol levels untreated.”