The People's Perspective on Medicine

Are New Cholesterol Drugs Way Too Pricey?

You can now lower your LDL cholesterol to unprecedented levels with new cholesterol drugs. Are Repatha and Praluent worth their hefty price tags?

Are the new cholesterol-lowering drugs such as alirocumab (Praluent) and evolocumab (Repatha) marvelous breakthroughs for treating heart disease? Or are they irrelevant because most patients who might need them cannot afford their hefty price tags? Will insurance companies pay for the new cholesterol drugs?

Cardiologists Weigh In:

Those questions are addressed in a suite of articles this week in JAMA Cardiology. Such new cholesterol drugs, known as PCSK9 inhibitors, cost $14,000 a year or more. As a result, cardiologists are faced with a dilemma. Should they applaud these drugs that lower LDL cholesterol substantially better than any other current treatment? Or should they look at cost effectiveness?

Too Pricey to Be Cost Effective:

The analyses of data from trials of evolocumab lead the scientists to the conclusion that either the price would need to be significantly lower or only people at extremely high risk for heart problems should take the drug. Currently, they conclude;

“that reducing the price of PCSK9 inhibitors remains the best approach to delivering the potential health benefits of PCSK9 inhibitors therapy at an acceptable cost.”

JAMA Cardiology, online, Aug 23, 2017

Side Effects of Repatha:

Evolocumab does have some side effects. The most common are:

  • sore throat
  • upper respiratory infection
  • back pain and other muscle pain
  • redness and soreness at the injection site
  • sinusitis
  • headache
  • urinary tract infection
  • dizziness
  • elevated blood pressure
  • diarrhea and digestive distress

Praluent Side Effects:

Alirocumab has a similar list of side effects:

  • sore throat and stuffy nose
  • redness and soreness at the injection site
  • influenza or bronchitis
  • urinary tract infection
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • sinusitis
  • bruising
  • elevated liver enzymes
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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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What I’ve read about the new injectable cholesterol drugs, is that it does almost every thing the Doctors wanted to do EXCEPT save lives…
They stress how great it is in lowering cholesterol, but don’t mention the fact that it doesn’t add any years or days to your life..
In fact, there was a minor amount of morbidity increase..

The Pharmaceutical industry has the highest profit margin of any sector of the US economy. These profits are on the back of every one of us, especially those on Medicare. Enough is enough–it’s time to rein in their voracious behaviour and regulate them the same way we do utilities. And NATIONALLY, so that they don’t buy out individual state legislatures, the way utilities do.

My thoughts on artificially altering ones cholesterol are DONT DO IT… if you go to repatha or praluents website, and look at the product literature you will find “the effects of repatha on heart disease is not known” and the effects of praluent on heart disease is not known” if you cant find it, Google the above phrases. And at a cost of up to $1400 per month? I think they have found yet another way to seperate a person from their money. I highly recommend you read “The Truth About Statins: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol Lowering Drugs” by Dr Barbara Roberts MD, a Cardiologist of 30+ years who actually takes the time to read the studys and discern the literature for herself.

I have heart damage from a mild heart attack about 3 years ago. I have been very active throughout my life yet I have never been able to make any significant changes in my cholesterol, LDL or HDL numbers until I started taking REPATHA. In the last 6 months my cholesterol has dropped from 250+ to 91, HDL from 36 to 42. Side effects have not been noticeable, if I have any at all. I am very thankful that my 27 years with Uncle Sam rewarded me with an insurance that covered me for the high cost. I am 70 now and looking forward to many more years of enjoyable life . I only hope that the pharmaceutical company will start to understand that lowering the price will increase circulation and profits and make an incredibly valuable drug available too a wider population.

I looked up Repatha and the mortality rate is the same as NOT taking it. Insurance won’t pay for it, and why would I put my family through that expense?

Well I have tried many statin Cholesterol drugs through my doctor to no avail. Every one of them gave me severe muscle pain. Repatha came available and I got on the trials of that which knocked my numbers down from my 290-300 to barley 100 or so. But after months of trying my doctor could not get my insurance company to approve it.

So, he send me to a cardiologist to try it coming from him. Cardiologist started me on Praluent. I tried it a couple of times and it just made me feel different, that’s about the best description I can give on that. Then my muscles started hurting again… So, needless to say, I stopped using it. Now I am on the road to a natural fix for my cholesterol.

I used Praluent for a number of months and did not find it controlled my Chlosterol any better than Crestor. The costs wothout insurance co-pay was about $1100 per month. When I finally did get help from my insurer, it was still over $500 per month. So my assessment was it certainly was not cost effective. My muscle weakness associated with Crestor has been significant which was my reason for trying Praluent. It was not improved with the change.

I am not convinced that the medical community evens knows what causes heart disease. They continue to create drugs such as these that cost a small fortune based on ideas that are over 50 years old that may not be true. The cost of these drugs will be passed on to consumers and my medical costs will continue to go up. Gut health and lectins may be the key to better health, not artificial drugs.

I was on statins twice and had to quit due to serious joint and muscle pain. In my quest for wanting to lose weight, have better blood work numbers, what foods should I eat/not eat… (I’m 67), my daughter told me about a book: “The China Study, The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted.” by T. Colon Campbell PhD and Thomas M Campbell II MD; 2016 expanded edition.

Read this book If you ever wanted to understand the huge benefit of eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet. Check it out. You can also listen to the authors on you tube: Check out “Forks over Knives – the interviews” on you tube to get a good overview. If you need hard facts to get resolved to ‘eat right’, this will help! And your blood work and the scale will prove you’re on the right track.

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