Tuesday, 21 March 2017

PCSK9 Inhibitors - the new way to screw the NHS for every last penny

Did you hear the “Amazing” news about the new generation of Statin drugs that was announced at the weekend? The new PCSK9 inhibitors like Evolocumab are even more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol and according to many this makes them a wonder drug.

The issue with statin trial data was simply a question of whether it is actually valid to rate a drug on a surrogate endpoint such as lowering cholesterol rather than that of saving lives. However the trials for Evolocumab went further than this, they provided real data on the expected outcomes for patients. Great?

It was a surprise to me that these new drugs need to be taken as well as a statin; so the question of the side-effects of statins is still very much alive. Again the advocates such as Professor Rory Collins will claim that the benefits vastly outweigh the side-effects, but this article in Today’s Times puts that argument to the sword.

Put simply, the number of people that need to be prescribed Evolocumab (at more than £10 a day) to prevent one of them having a stroke or heart attack is 74. Yes, 74 people need to take the drug every day for two years, in addition to a statin, to prevent just one of them having a stroke or heart attack.  

Just to repeat, that is 74 people and £540,200 of NHS funds in order to save one stroke or heart attack every 2 years. 

Does that sound like good news to you? Spend that money on dietary intervention and you might prolong hundreds of lives.