Praluent and Repatha: Controlling cholesterol, but at what price?

  • Praluent (alirocumab) and Repatha (evolocumab) are newly approved cholesterol-lowering drugs for reducing the risk of certain heart diseases.1,2
  • On average, either of these drugs can cost around $14,000 USD per person per year.3
  • In an analysis, this price tag was found to be overpriced by over $9,000 per person per year.3

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. An estimated 3 in 10 deaths globally are caused by heart diseases. To reduce the risk of heart diseases caused by high cholesterol, guidelines recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, treatment with statins, and Praluent or Repatha.4,5

In the US, Praluent and Repatha are sold with an average price tag of $14,000 per person per year. This is essentially 3-months’ worth of income for an average American family.3,6

In an analysis published in the journal JAMA, Dr. Kazi and colleagues explored the cost-effectiveness of Praluent and Repatha.3

Praluent and Repatha added to a statin costed more than 4-times as much as they should for patients at risk of heart diseases caused by plaques in their arteries.3

This figure rose even higher for patients who would need such treatments because of an inherited genetic defect, where Praluent and Repatha addted to a statin costed more than 5-times as much as they should.3

So what would be considered a fair price for Praluent and Repatha? $4,536 per person per year.3

Bottom line

  • Doctors and patients may want to consider the negative consequences of paying too much for medications.
  • At $14,000 per year, the choice to me would be more like “take 3-months off of work without pay” or “work for free so I can get my meds”. Personally, I’d take the former any day.

Source study: Kazi DS, et al. JAMA 2016;316(7):743-53. A paid subscription may be required.

References: 1. Alirocumab Prescribing Information, 2015. 2. Evolocumab Prescribing Information, 2015. 3. Kazi DS, et al. JAMA 2016;316(7):743-53. 4. World Health Organization. Media centre: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Available at: http://www.who.int. Accessed on September 13, 2016. 5. Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2016;68(1):92-125. 6. US Census Bureau. Income and poverty in the United States: 2014. Available at: http://www.census.gov. Accessed on September 13, 2016.

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