Canada, the US, and the Cost of Cholesterol Lowering Medications

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Indicator is $364 million

This week’s JAMA  has an article with graphics that tell an important story.

Recent studies have questioned the value of the newer, brand name fibrates to lower cholesterol – but nonetheless fibrate use has increased, especially in the US. 
In the United States, the entire increase is in the expensive brand name medicine, not the generic medicine which has a better-established record of effectiveness.

In Canada there has been a tiny increase in the use of fibrates – but that increase is almost entirely in generic medication

Here is the price implication.

The US is one of the only developed countries that does not regulate pharmaceutical prices. We’re one of the few countries that allows direct to consumer advertising.  If our physicians prescribed generic fibrates at the Canadian rate, even with our high number of prescriptions, this class of medicine would have cost $364 million less in 2009.

A side note: This week's JAMA also has a review I wrote of Walter Bortz' Next Medicine.  Harvard Link.  Non-Harvard Link