Here come the ads for Repatha®
If you have high cholesterol, you need to know about the results of Amgen's Repatha® study. Highly anticipated by cardiologists and insurers, the trial evaluated whether adding a PCSK9 inhibitor to statin treatment improves outcomes.
Here are the major take-aways the pharmaceutical company will want you to see:
- Adding Repatha® to statin treatment dramatically lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol - from an average of 92 mg/dL to 30 mg/dL.
- This cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by over 20 percent
- There was no increase in side effects, including muscle achiness, cognitive issues or diabetes
Here is what the pharmaceutical company will want to gloss over:
- There was no reduction in overall rates of death
- We don’t know the long term effects of having extremely low LDL levels – patients in the study were on the drug for less than 3 years and this medication is meant to be taken for life
- Repatha® costs $14,000 per year
What you should take away:
- This study adds to the consistent data that lowering LDL reduces heart disease risk, no matter what you use to get there
- If your doctor prescribes Repatha® and you have a high deductible, be prepared for sticker shock. And even if your insurer covers the drug, you may still be stuck with a very high co-pay
- Given the lack of long term side effect data, you should think of this drug as a last resort, not a first line option
- Food is always the better answer. It’s tried and true. It has no side effects. And when full of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and plant sterols, it’s already extensively proven to lower LDL cholesterol and markedly reduce the risk of heart disease.
by Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC
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