OTC Statins Could Reduce Cardiovascular Events, Deaths

Approximately 7.3 million patients who are eligible would start over-the-counter statin treatments.

Researchers discovered that over-the-counter (OTC) statins could potentially improve patient outcomes without significant increases in healthcare costs.

While increasing access to statins could improve health among individuals eligible for the treatment who are not currently taking them, critics argue that it would increase the risk of inappropriate use by consumers. Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, created a 10-year cost-effectiveness model to analyze healthcare costs and population health crating OTC statins.

They gathered data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2007 and 2008. Patients were placed into 3 groups:

  • group 1: patients not taking statins but meet guidelines
  • group 2: patients not taking statins that do not meet guidelines
  • group 3: patients taking statins who switch to OTC statins

They found that approximately 7.3 million patients (15.8%) who are eligible would potentially start a statin regimen. Researchers also estimate that 1.5 million (1.1%) of untreated patients will start treatment, and 4% of pre-treated patients will switch to OTC treatments, according to the study.

Overall, the researchers suggest that 85% of previously untreated users who start the treatment could benefit from the regimen. They project that there would be a reduction of 293,492 in major vascular events, and 135,299 less coronary revascularization procedures over a 10-year span.

There would also be 68,534 heart disease-related and stroke-related deaths. For group 1, researchers find that OTC statin use among these patients will increase costs by $14.5 billion over 10 years, and there could potentially be 3198 new cases of rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal side effect.

For group 2, OTC statin use will not be beneficial, and will cause 666 cases of rhabdomyolysis. This group would add a projected $5.4 billion in costs.

For group 3, there will be 22,909 more major vascular events and 2154 additional deaths, according to the study. Major vascular events are expected to add $499.6 million in costs, and the treatment itself is projected to cost $1.2 billion.

They also predicted a decrease of $9 billion in physician visits. Overall, researchers concluded that the benefits of OTC statins would outweigh any potential new costs, and could provide a cost-effective way to improve health outcomes.