Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ferry from "Statin Island"

Statins have become some of the most widely prescribed drugs of all time.  Atorvastatin calcium (the artist formally know as Lipitor) is prescribed an estimated 50,000 times a year according to the FDA and is by far, up until it lost patent protection in November 2011, the best selling statin of all time (see graph).  And to make them even more spectacular, statin benefits are not limited to simply lowering LDL cholesterol levels.  Recent studies have shown that statin use could potentially treat or prevent cancer as summarized by John LaMattina, a contributor to Forbes. 

Image courtesy of Pharma Marketing News

Even with the extensive benefits and proven efficacy of statin therapies, adherence to prescribed therapies is still an issue. recently summarized the results from the USAGE survey, which was the largest cholesterol survey ever, tracking treatment adherence and physician-patient communication of 10,100 statin users. 

With 75% of all newly prescribed statin users discontinuing their therapy by the end of the first year, we believe it is essential that healthcare providers uncover the reasons behind this trend in their patients and do not assume the patient is "compliant." We further encourage healthcare providers to develop strategies and leverage support tools that encourage treatment adherence.  

Studies show increasing the adherence rate will result in improved health for patients, higher revenues for drug manufacturers, and reduced future healthcare costs.  The USAGE survey shows that side effects (62%), cost (17%), and lack of treatment efficacy (12%) lead the way for reasons why statin users discontinue prescribed therapies.  However, revamping physician-patient dialogue and education techniques will help address adherence issues because part of good adherence counseling includes discussions about how to manage potential side effects.    

For more information about the USAGE survey, please visit

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