There’s a new treatment on the market called Evolucumab that can significantly reduce cholesterol levels in high-risk heart attack or stroke patients. But it comes with a catch: it has a $14,000 price tag per year. Goodbye life savings.
For the 27,000 patients involved in the two-year trial, the injections reduced cholesterol by an average of nearly 60 per cent in those who received it. In most cases, the drug brought these levels down even lower than cholesterol pills did — good news for those who find themselves at the end of the rope in terms of treatment options.
“Many of our patients are on maximum medical therapy with statin therapy and various other medications,” explained Christopher Overgaard, a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. “And what this drug has shown is that we can lower cholesterol a further 59 per cent, and in doing so, proportionately lower the risk of heart attack or stroke in the future.”
Heart attacks can occur when cholesterol and plaque builds up and ruptures in an artery, blocking the heart’s blood supply. A monthly injection of this new drug can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in high-risk patients, and do it with few side effects. And at $14,000 a year (or at least $1,167 per injection), it really is too good to be true.
It’s still in the early stages of development, so naturally, it’s more expensive than other treatment options. But as it continues to be studied and used (and hopefully renamed to something more pronounceable), it should become cheaper.
“The companies, to their credit — there are two of them on the market now I believe — are doing everything in their power to actually offset that cost for fixed income patients, but obviously there still are cost challenges,” said Overgaard.
There’s even talk about the drug’s potential use as the primary treatment for lower-risk patients down the road, meaning we all could be taking some form of this stuff in the not-so-distant future. But choosing between your health and your savings isn’t a dilemma that anyone should ever have to face. Hopefully, it won’t won’t take too long for the drug’s price to drop.