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Guidelines for Cholesterol Treatment Cost-Effective

Adherence to statin guidelines for coronary heart disease prevention could prevent thousands of US deaths annually

TUESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Full implementation of national cholesterol treatment guidelines could have a major health impact at a cost-effective price, according to research published in the Feb. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Mark J. Pletcher, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues used a computer-simulated model to process data on coronary heart disease occurrence, risk factors, mortality and costs among Americans older than 35, which were obtained from a variety of sources.

If statins cost roughly $1.50 to $2.20 per pill, the Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines -- published in 2001 and updated in 2004 -- are fairly cost-effective, the investigators found. Full adherence to the primary prevention guidelines for adults 35 to 85 would prevent 20,000 myocardial infarctions and 10,000 coronary heart disease deaths annually, at a net cost of $3.6 billion each year, presuming low-intensity statins cost $2.11 each, the researchers report.

"Our analysis shows explicitly how the preferred cholesterol-lowering strategy changes with statin pill costs. With lower costs, extending statin therapy to larger, lower-risk segments of the U.S. population becomes cost-effective. At very low pill costs, already available with generic statins at discount retailers, statin therapy for low-risk persons would yield a net cost savings by preventing coronary heart disease events," the authors conclude.

A study co-author reports financial relationships with several pharmaceutical companies.

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