ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

New Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Can Reduce LDL Cholesterol By 60%

Updated on November 1, 2016
Steven-Rich-MBA profile image

Steven Rich, MBA, has 30 years experience as a content writer. Former ad agency owner, he is now a freelance content writer and SEO expert.

USA Today reported on August 17, 2016 that two promising new drugs recently approved by the FDA called PCSK9 inhibitors can reduce LDL cholesterol by 60%. However, the biggest drawback is the enormous annual price of $14,000 per person. According to USA Today, both pharmacy benefits managers and health insurance companies are balking at the high price.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an economic analysis of these two new drugs on August 16 estimating that the annual $14,000 price tag per patient would increase USA annual health care costs by $120 billion. The authors questioned how much Americans are willing to pay for improved health. If all patients in need were treated with Praluent or Repatha, the yearly U.S. health spending estimated at $2.8 trillion would increase by as much as 4% which amount is an unacceptable increase for one single medicine.

An Alternative to Statins

PCSK9 inhibitors were approved by the FDA for patients unable to tolerate current popular statins medications because they can’t lower their cholesterol levels using them, or develop liver problems or muscle pain. Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, effectively reduce cholesterol and raising low-densite lipoprotein (LDL). Statins decrease the risks of strokes, heart attacks and other arterial disease related to high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy, soft material found in all cell membranes and in the blood. Cholesterol is synthesized in the liver after being absorbed from foods. Hypercholesterolemia is the term used to describe high cholesterol levels in the blood which is a major risk for strokes and cardiac diseases because of the plaque formed in arteries leading to blockage of the arteries.

These new drugs are called Repatha, produced by Amgen, and Praluent, manufactured by Sanofi & Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. It is estimated that 9 million Americans between the ages of 35 to 74 can use them. These are the first new type of drugs to lower cholesterol since 1987 when statins were introduced.

The chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Steve Nissen, stated that it is still too early to know their full benefits. Therefore, it won’t be known if these new drugs are cost effective yet. While these two drugs can lower cholesterol levels dramatically, an insufficient time exists to know if they prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Insurance Issues

Controversy exists regarding health insurance companies and these two new drugs. Health insurance companies are limiting the usage of these drugs because they believe health care costs will sharply rise, according to a spokesperson for Regeneron, Hala Mirza. According to Mirza, health insurance companies prevented access to around 75% of the patients presenting prescriptions from their physicians for the two drugs.

The Cigna insurance company does provide coverage for both drugs pursuant to an agreement with the drug companies last May. According to Christopher Bradbury, senior vice president of Cigna Pharmacy, both drug companies agreed to a significant initial “discount” to drastically decrease prices if the drugs fail to perform as they did in the clinical trials. Mr. Bradbury manages the customer prescription benefits program for Cigna. In addition, Mr. Bradbury emphasizes the importance to make pharmaceutical companies accountable to make it easier for Cigna to make the drugs available to the most qualified insured.

Cost Effectiveness

Another problem for the two drugs is that they failed a cost effective standard test because their costs are higher than $100,000 for every year a healthy life is saved which measures the quality of a patient’s life. To comply, the drugs will have to reduce their prices by 70% to approximately $4,500 per year making them within proximity of the drugs’ costs in Europe. According to Dhruv Kazi, the lead author of a new study on these two drugs and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco; the European Union (EU) normally negotiates drug prices for their members with drug companies.

In conclusion, more time is needed to evaluate the long term effect of these two new medicines and hopefully in the near future their prices will dramatically decrease to make them affordable. In the meantime, health insurers are reluctant to approve their usage for their insured clients.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 Steven Rich


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)