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Generic Statins Can Provide Equivalent Outcomes At Lower Cost For 63 Percent Of Statin Users

Armen Hareyan's picture

Generic Statins

The expanded use of generic statins can provide equal cardiovascular benefits to a majority of patients being treated for high cholesterol while offering substantial cost savings over brand-name drugs.

The study, which compares the effectiveness of various brand name and generic statins for patients in clinical settings, was recently presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference in Washington, D.C.

"The results of our study demonstrate that a large percentage of patients receiving statins fall into the low and moderate cardiovascular risk categories," said Vincent Willey, PharmD, vice president, research development and operations for HealthCore and lead investigator for the study. "In addition, we found that the amount of reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that these patients need to meet their goals can be achieved with any one of several different statins, including simvastatin."

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To complete its study, HealthCore analyzed the claims data integrated with electronic lab result data of more than 30,000 WellPoint members who were prescribed a statin at any point over a four-year period. The goal of the study was to determine the cardiovascular (CV) risk stratification of these patients and to calculate the LDL reduction achieved with various statin medications and dosages in the clinical setting.

"We took on this study to gain a thorough understanding of the real-world effectiveness of statins," said Marcus Wilson, PharmD, president of HealthCore. "Having this advanced knowledge of how these products work for actual patients will aid health plans and employers in developing affordable pharmacy benefit designs and help to ensure that members receive care that has proven effective in the real world."

Currently, more than 60 percent of prescriptions written for statins . the most frequently prescribed class of cholesterol-lowering drugs . are for brand-name drugs. Since 2003, however, the number of statin patients taking generics has more than tripled. The most frequently prescribed brand-name statins are often written for lower doses, and for many such patients, the desired LDL reduction could be achieved using generic versions. The FDA requires that generic versions of prescription drugs be equivalent in quality, strength, purity and stability to the brand name versions they replace.

"HealthCore's study of statin use demonstrates the true effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering drugs, a vital therapy to reduce cardiovascular disease," said Sam Nussbaum, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for WellPoint. "Our goals are to achieve greater persistency of statin use in order to increase cardiovascular health, and let physicians know that for a large proportion of patients who meet certain risk criteria, generic alternatives provide the same health benefits at lower cost."

HealthCore, a subsidiary of WellPoint, is a health outcomes and clinical research organization that has served the needs of health plans, physician practices and pharmaceutical manufacturers since 1996. HealthCore focuses on providing evidence of the real-world safety and effectiveness of therapeutics; offering insight to best utilize this evidence; and communicating these findings to health care decision-makers. The company's work is increasingly used to support evidence-based medicine, process improvement and patient- reported outcomes.