Cholesterol-reducing drugs are used by millions of heart patients in the United States. These drugs help in the prevention of heart attacks or strokes.
Commonly used cholesterol drugs, also known as statins, include Crestor and Lipitor which are cheap and easily available in the market. However, there are various other types of drugs which are prescribed to patients suffering from high cholesterol.
Among them is a relatively new drug named Repatha which was cleared by the FDA in 2015. However, most patients cannot afford the drug as it costs an astronomical $14,523 a year. Due to its steep pricing, most medical insurances do not want to pay for the drug.
There have been claims by insurance companies that the drug is not particularly beneficial to those suffering from high cholesterol.
How Effective Is Repatha In Lowering Cholesterol Levels?
In light of these allegations, a cardiovascular outcome study known as FOURIER was conducted to record the beneficial effects of this new drug sponsored by Amgen, the maker of Repatha.
The study mainly revolves around the severe major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE), which refers to events like first heart attack, strokes or cardiovascular death.
The study was conducted on 27,564 patients, and nearly 80 percent of them had suffered from a heart attack. The rest of the patients, due to narrowed arteries, were suffering from pain in their legs and have had a stroke.
Half of the patients were asked to take optimal quantity of statins along with Repatha. The other half, the control group, were given a placebo.
It was observed that administering the drug reduced average low-density lipoproteins (LDL) from 92 to 30. A quarter of the people on the new drug had LDL level 19.
Is Repatha Effective?
The benefit of Repatha was seen on those tested within six months. Moreover, it continued to show positive effects throughout 2.2 years of the research.
The reduction in the rate of MACE increased with time, from about 16 percent during the first year to 25 percent later.
"This is a game changer for high-risk patients. Even though these patients were optimally treated with the latest therapies, they were still at high risk for an additional cardiac event. It's remarkable to see such a large impact in reducing cardiac events given that this patient population was only on Repatha for about two years," stated Sean E. Harper, M.D., EVP of R&D at Amgen.
The research also showed a 15 percent decrease in cases of hospitalization due to unbalanced angina, heart attacks, revascularization, cardiovascular death and strokes.
Insurance companies reluctant to pay for the drug may now have to reassess the situation after the results of the current study have been published.
Amgen claims that Repatha is worth the price, and its value has been proven conclusively with the study.