VA Patients in Peril

  • by: |
  • 09/06/2007
Hillary, Obama, Edwards, et al still continue to point to the VA system as a model for how to handle prescription drugs. Let it be noted that Lipitor is not on the VA formulary and patients are usually started out on a generic statin. Now cut to the following headline:

From The Times (UK)
September 6, 2007

Switch to cheap statins 'raises risk of heart attack or stroke'

Report on risk research undertaken by maker of the market leader in branded statins
Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Millions of patients being transferred to cheaper generic versions of statin drugs may suffer a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, a study says.

Patients in Britain who have been prescribed branded statins such as Lipitor or Crestor are being switched by their GPs to a cheaper drug, simvastatin, to save money.

The claim is that simvastatin is similar in its effects to Lipitor, the market leader in branded statins, so that nobody will suffer by the switch and the NHS will save tens of millions of pounds a year.

Pfizer, which makes Lipitor, investigated whether such switches were really risk-free by using an NHS data-base compiled from GP data.

It reported yesterday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Vienna that patients switched from Lipitor to simvastatin had a 43 per cent higher chance of a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack."

And here's the key point that liberals and the comparative effectiveness crowd willfully ignores explaining why stroke and heart attack rates were up:

"One possible explanation, he said, was that statins are actually different in their effects. The sample, of 2,511 people who had been switched, did not show any difference in the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol, but relatively few GPs had recorded the data.

“We only have that data for 15 per cent of the sample,” Dr Phillips said. “Maybe if we had more it would show that switching leads to higher LDL levels, which could help explain the findings.”
Previous head-to-head comparisons of statins had shown that the choice of drug had little effect on death rates, he said, except in very high-risk patients.

The differences tended to be seen in morbidity, he said: how ill people were and how well their symptoms were controlled."

And that's the model the know-it-alls want to shove down the throats of the rest of us.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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