People who depend on the use of cholesterol lowering medications may be paying more for the life-saving drugs than what they really cost, according to a new draft report released on Tuesday, Sept.8.

Researchers at the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) discovered that the prices of medications that best provide overall benefits to patients would be around $3,615 to $4,811 each year. This represents a 67 percent drop from the list prices.

Steven Pearson, president of the ICER, said that even if these medications were provided to more than 25 percent of patients that are eligible, employers, insurers and even the patients themselves would not have to spend over $20 billion annually on average for such drugs.

In the draft report, the ICER researchers concluded that it would require further reduction in prices to a yearly cost of $2,177 in order to prevent a limitation of drug use among patients. This would help keep the growth of health care cost manageable overall.

The newly-developed injectable cholesterol reducers are included in a class of drugs called as PCSK9 inhibitors. These drugs were shown to lower levels of LDL, also known as bad cholesterol, by as much as 55 to 60 percent in individuals who are not able to lower these levels through inexpensive statins.

PCSK9 inhibitors can also help reduce LDL cholesterol levels among people who are not capable of tolerating statins in their bodies. Scientists are currently conducting studies to determine whether PCSK9 inhibitors can lower heart attack risks similar to statins.

A year of treatment using Praluent, a cholesterol reducing drug manufactured by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, costs $14,600, while Repatha, a product of Amgen Inc., costs $14,100 for a year's worth of treatment.

The ICER stated that depending on how the cholesterol reducing medications are used in practice, the institute estimates that around 3.5 million to 15 million people in the United States could qualify for treatment.

The researchers note that there are serious concerns about the price at which these medications would represent a reasonable value to individuals and to the health care system.

The ICER identified that both Praluent and Repatha have similar effectiveness overall for most patient groups.

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