Regeneron to Slash Price of Cholesterol Drug After Showing it Saved Lives

Regeneron to Slash Price of Cholesterol Drug After Showing it Saved Lives

The high-risk group is the estimated 1.3 million people in the USA and Europe who have had heart attacks or strokes and still can't get their LDL-C levels below 100 mg/dL of blood despite treatment with statins.

In the study, it was observed that alirocumab significantly reduced the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in patients who had suffered a recent acute coronary syndrome (ACS) event, like a heart attack.

A first outcomes trial previous year, called Fourier, similarly reported that Repatha, a different PCSK9 inhibitor called evolocumab, reduced the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, hospitalization for angina or revascularization procedures.

The news comes as the high price of prescription drugs remains a big political flashpoint; both new U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb amped up the pressure on drug companies, hospitals, and insurers this week to change payment schemes and increase drug price transparency to help drive down healthcare costs.

Results from the trial were presented during a late-breaker session at the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) 67 Annual Scientific Session in Orlando on Saturday. The study also showed that Praluent caused a reduction in all-cause death. "With almost 90 percent of the patients in this trial on high-intensity statins, the data demonstrate that a precision-medicine approach in the field of cardiovascular disease may further advance how we better treat high-risk patients". The drug works by blocking the protein PCSK9 in patients for whom statins and other lipid-lowering treatments aren't adequately lowering cholesterol. "Really, it's not just a shame, it's nearly a crime to deny this drug to these patients who are at such high risk and will derive such a big benefit".

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The drug, which is injected every two weeks or every four weeks based on strength, allows the liver to remove more LDL from the blood and lowers the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood. But preventing fewer than one heart problem a year at the drug's current price is not cost-effective, he said.

With an LDL target range of 25-50, rather than taking it as low as possible, three-quarters of patients ended up on a lower dose of Praluent and some were taken off the drug if their LDL remained at 15 or lower.

The makers of an expensive cholesterol-lowering drug plan to offer discounts of up to 69% in exchange for insurers and pharmacy-benefit managers expanding their coverage of the medicine to more patients.

"Too many patients in urgent need of additional treatment options on top of statins have faced tremendous hurdles to gain access to this important medicine".

"We need to reset our expectations" and realize that benefits for any new drug are going to be fairly small when added to already good treatments such as statins, said Dr Jeffrey Kuvin, conference leader and cardiology chief at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre. Insurers often balk at their high list prices, some $14,000 apiece per patient, per year. "This is the right thing to do for patients".

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