For many patients with have high levels of cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia, cholesterol medication can be expensive. Well, good news! In a recent study, Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, found that patients who use a new kind of cholesterol medication can save thousands of dollars over the long run.
PCSK9 inhibitor therapy is a type of medication used to lower cholesterol levels in individuals with high cholesterol or those at risk of cardiovascular diseases. PCSK9 stands for Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9, which is a protein produced in the liver that plays a role in regulating cholesterol levels in the blood.
The new medication is a treatment that can be used for adults with certain heart and cholesterol conditions. It’s suitable for those with clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) or heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH) who still have high LDL cholesterol (LDLC) levels despite trying various diet and drug therapies.
In the United States, it’s estimated that about 24 million adults with high cholesterol might be eligible to receive PSCK9 inhibitors. And now, thanks to an informative study by Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, it seems that PSCK9 therapy could save these patients thousands (if not millions) of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
The Methods Used
The study conducted by Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, analyzed 103 total patients who had difficulties with cholesterol and a maximally tolerated diet-drug therapy. The study assessed what is called ‘pharmacoeconomics,’ or more simply a cost-benefit analysis of pharmaceuticals, of the PSCK9 inhibitor therapy.
The study estimated both the indirect and direct costs of cardiovascular events related to cholesterol that require hospitalization by using various databases from sources such as BMC Health Services Research, the Healthcare Bluebook, and the American Heart Association.
The study, using data from the successful application of PSCK9 inhibitor therapy, assumed a reduction in hospitalizing cardiovascular events (heart attacks, cardiac arrest, etc.) for 50% of patients who were on PCSK9 inhibitors to calculate the indirect and direct healthcare savings that could be realized.
Of the patients, 56% were women and 44% were men, either on evolocumab or alirocumab, both of which are different variants of PSCK9 therapy. A majority of the patients (61) experienced their first cardiovascular event at a median age of 55, while on a cholesterol-lowering therapy.
The total costs for these patients was more than $8.90 million. Of that total, $4.58 million was for indirect costs with $4.33 million being direct costs.
The median 10-year risk of a new hospitalizing cardiovascular event occurring was calculated to be 13.1%, resulting in a total future estimated cost of $1.65 million. That’s a lot of money, even if much of it will be covered by health insurance.
Applying the assumption of a reduction of 50% for cardiac events for patients on the PSCK9 inhibitors, the savings for the 61 patients in the study would have been $4.45 million, with future 10-year savings at $1.12 million.
The study conducted by Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, found that there were potentially significant healthcare cost savings that could be realized by the PCSK9 inhibitor therapy for patients who have hypercholesterolemia.
In the 61 patients who were studied here, the net costs per-patient, per-year were estimated to be $7,000 in the past if they used this PCSK9 inhibitor therapy. In addition, the future 10-year intervention net costs per-patient, per year were estimated at $12,459.
Both of these numbers are well below the $50,000 per-year quality adjusted life-year (saved or cost savings by taking PCSK9 inhibitor therapy).
About Gregory Duhon, MD
Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, is an Internal Medicine Physician and Hospitalist with acumen in ICU, emergency room, and crisis/pandemic management. Known for compassionate patient care, Dr. Duhon has donated volunteer time to provide medical care to flood victims and those affected by opioid addiction. Gregory Duhon is training for the Ironman and enjoys travel, cooking, and passion fruit propagation.