After the launching of a new cholesterol treatment, CVS insists on new heart treatment guidelines being drafted in the US. CVS Health Care is the US’s second biggest drug benefit manager which that arranges plans for insurers and employers.
The company decided to act after the launch of the newest cholesterol treatment drug called Praulent. This action is being taken in light of the complex and unfriendly drug distribution system present in the US, which oftentimes ends up being a burden on the people who actually need the medication.
It’s no secret that insurance companies wanting to make bigger profits are strictly regulating the access to certain drugs, giving them to some patients while withholding them from others. This is part of a larger tactic in light of which they are requesting discounts from drug makers.
This newest drug is expensive, the treatment for one month going in at about $15,000 per year. Compare this to easier cholesterol leveling drugs such as statins, and you have a wild price fluctuation. Statins cost about $50 per month of treatment, which means about $600 per year, 4 percent of the price of Praulent treatment.
Perulent, made in collaboration by Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceutics Inc., blocks PCSK9, a protein found in the organism which is responsible for allowing LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, to remain in the bloodstream. The FDA just approved this drug for treatment and is expect to approve another PCSK9 protein inhibitor, called Repatha, later this month.
In a letter that was published in the Journal of American Medical Association’s latest issue, CVS warns that current US guidelines to heart disease do not clearly specify the level of bad LDL cholesterol that a person should have in order to receive this far more potent treatment.
Dr. William Shrank, who works with CVS as a chief scientific officer, has said that under current guidelines, doctors could easily prescribe unnecessary Perulent, or later Repatha, to patients who are at very low risk of heart disease, and just need to keep diet and exercise. This is not only unnecessary and potentially damaging to the patients’ health, but also damaging to their pockets. Insurers may be the ones who are profiting from this current situation, not the doctors, not the healthcare system, and especially not the patients.
Although CVS warns about the abusive prescription of PCSK0 inhibitors, it does acknowledge that a combination of the three treatments soon available, Perulent, Repatha, as well as statins, could lower cholesterol levels in patients in critical situations by as much as 60%.
Image source: turner.com