Cholesterol Drugs
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About Cholesterol Drugs

Types of Cholesterol Drugs

There are several different types of drugs to treat high cholesterol. Statins are by far the most popular type of cholesterol lowering drug. Other types include bile acid resins, nicotinic acid (niacin), and fibrates.

Statins prevent the body from making cholesterol. Statins are considered to be the first treatment for people with high cholesterol if making lifestyle changes doesn't cause cholesterol levels to decrease. Statins have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels 25 to 40 percent.

Cholesterol Drug Growth

Cholesterol drugs have experienced double digit growth over the last five years. Much of that growth can be attributed to the increased usage of statins.

The first statin was introduced by Merck in September 1987. The drug was called Mevacor, which is now available as lovastatin in a generic form. Promotional efforts were targeted to physicians.

The second statin on the market was Pravachol, which became available in November of 1991. Pravachol was priced 5 to 10 percent less than Mevacor. Zocor, which is now the second best selling drug in the United States, started being sold in January of 1992. Within five years, Smith-Kline Beecham was spending nearly $265 million to promote Zocor. Nearly two-thirds of those promotion dollars were for samples.

Statin number four started being sold in April 1994 by the name of Lescol. It wasn't until February of 1997 that Lipitor became available. In just two years, Lipitor had gained a 30 percent market share, largely because of heavy physician promotions and samples.

In 2000, for example, sampling accounted for nearly $175 million of the $285 million that was spent on promotion Lipitor. Direct-to-consumer advertising accounted for only $60 million.

A sixth statin, Baycol, started being sold in December 1997. Baycol was taken off of the market, however, in August of 2001 after there were reports that 31 patients died from severe muscle weakness from taking the drug. Crestor, another stain, is awaiting FDA approval.

There are currently no over-the-counter drugs for reducing cholesterol.

Promoting Statins

Drug companies have found it very effective to distribute samples of statins to doctors to increase usage.

This chart shows how five popular statins were promoted in 2000:

The Power of Samples

Sampling is the largest single expense for promoting drugs. In 2000, nearly one-half of the $16 billion that was spent for promoting drugs – all drugs – was for samples. One billion samples were distributed in 2000.

Drug companies have found samples to be an effective way to increase statin usage. With cholesterol-lowering drugs, patients often start by taking “free” samples. If the drug helps to lower cholesterol, they start getting prescriptions filled. Since most people who start taking a cholesterol drug remain on it, it is easy to see the influence of samples.

Chart showing average price of 30-day prescription

Cost Comparisons of Cholesterol Drugs

The average price of a 30-day cholesterol-lowering prescription drug has remained relatively flat over the last four years.

Source: http://www.wellmark.com/



 

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Consumer Rating Resterol

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 USMedicalResearch.org is designed for information purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem you should consult your own doctor.


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