More people could benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering statins – even those considered to be at low risk of cardiovascular disease – according to an editorial published in the August 6 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Anthony Keech, Deputy Director, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney, and coauthors have questioned whether more people should be eligible for lipid-lowering therapy based on the latest evidence.
Two of the authors were involved a recent meta-analysis based on data from 170,000 patients with or without cardiovascular disease which showed that treatment with statins resulted in significant reductions in vascular events, such as strokes and heart attacks, in patients with no history of vascular disease.
The editorial noted, however, that subsidising treatment for more people on the basis of this new evidence would have financial implications for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – especially in light of the comparatively high price Australia already pays for its cholesterol-lowering drugs.
While there is no substitute for lifestyle modification, the capacity for statins to assist in the treatment of lower-risk individuals (where lifestyle modification has failed to reduce cholesterol) has been shown, the authors wrote.
“This new evidence must be urgently considered, with appropriate economic analyses, for incorporation into clinical and PBS guidelines”.