More expensive statin to be more commonly prescribed for diabetics

Fri, 24 Feb 2012
A more expensive group of statins, known as atorvastatin, is likely to be more commonly prescribed by the end of the year.

The reason for the switches to take place is that the patent for atorvastatin is set to expire in May, allowing cheaper, 'generic' versions of the drug to be made available. It could take up to a year before the prices fall, however, people struggling with cheaper statins may be switched onto atorvastatin earlier.

Atorvastatin is most frequently prescribed in cases where patients are not able to tolerate the cheaper statin, simvastatin. The switch comes at a cost, however, as atorvastatin is almost 20 times as expensive as simvastatin. When atorvastatin comes off patent, in May, the cost of the drug to surgeries is expected to plummet to a sixth of its current price.

People with diabetes are commonly prescribed statins as a measure to prevent development of heart disease. Statins are able to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. High levels of LDL have been linked with higher incidences of heart disease. However, there is still some debate, within the medical community, as to the benefits of statins therapy and whether the drugs should be prescribed as freely as often as they currently are.
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