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More People Could Benefit from Statins

Lifetime treatment of a wider population is cost-effective

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A greater number of people could benefit from statins, and widening the pool of candidates for the drug would be cost-effective, according to the results of a study published online Nov. 10 in BMJ.

The study, conducted by the Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group of the University of Oxford in England, comprised 20,536 men and women aged 40 to 80 from 69 U.K. hospitals. The subjects were diagnosed with coronary disease, other occlusive arterial disease or diabetes. The cohort was randomized to receive 40 milligrams of simvastatin or placebo every day for an average of five years.

In most of the age and vascular disease groups covered by the study, lifetime treatment with simvastatin was cost-saving, even though these gains, as well as life-expectancy gains, decreased with increasing age and decreasing vascular disease risk. Those in the 40 to 49 age-group with a 42 percent five-year risk of major vascular events gained 2.49 years' life expectancy, but there were also gains for those with a much lower risk of major vascular events.

Based on current U.K. prices, the drug would be cost-saving or cost less than GBP2,500 per life-year gained for those with even a 1 percent risk of major vascular events. "Statin therapy should be considered routinely for people across a wider age range and at lower risk of vascular disease than is currently the case," the authors conclude.

The study was funded in part by Roche Vitamins Ltd. and Merck & Co., the maker of simvastatin.

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