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Statins Cost Four Times More in U.S. Than in U.K.

FRIDAY, Jan. 13 -- Widely used cholesterol-lowering statin drugs cost about 400 percent more in the United States than in the United Kingdom, a new study shows.

Prescription drug costs are a major issue in the ongoing debate about health costs in both the United States and the U.K., noted the researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program.

For this study, they compared 2005 data from 280,000 people aged 55 to 64 in both countries and found that statins were prescribed to nearly 33 percent of those in the United States and more than 25 percent of those in the U.K.

In the United States, the estimated annual cost of statins ranged from a high of $1,428 for simvastatin to a low of $314 for lovastatin.

The annual cost of statins in the U.K. varied from a high of $500 for atorvastatin to a low of $164 for simvastatin.

The total estimated annual cost for U.S. statin users with private insurance was more than $69 million, compared with nearly $16 million for statin users covered by the government in the U.K.

"In addition to differences in overall statin use and per-unit costs, another significant factor contributing to the disparity of costs appears to be the availability and utilization of generics," lead author Dr. Hershel Jick, director emeritus of BUSM's Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, said in a Boston Medical Center news release.

The study appears online in the January issue of the journal Pharmacotherapy.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about controlling cholesterol with statins.

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Posted: January 2012