I am taking a risk here and using a summary of a report rather than digging into the report itself. However, the summary is pretty damning and explains why medical care costs so much. (If I find that the article has misrepresented the death rates between drug group and placebo then I will post a correction.)
The report is on a new cardiovascular drug to lower cholesterol levels. The retail price is $14,000 per year. The company is reporting success, but …
“Those who got Amgen’s drug were 15 percent less likely to suffer a bad outcome, defined as heart attack, stroke, hospitalization for chest pain, placement of a stent, or death.
However, looking at death rates alone, there was no significant difference between the two groups.“
“But looking at death alone, Repatha had no effect, and it wasn’t meaningfully better than placebo at keeping patients out of the hospital with chest pains.“
How is this a success??? My patients don’t particularly care if they die of heart disease or something else. Paying $14,000 per year to die at the same rate??? If the STAT news report is accurate regarding the lack of reduction in death rate, then any excitement about this medication seems absurd.
Given how severe the effect of financial stress is on people, I think we would be likely to get a reduction in death rate if we simply gave patients a $1400 per year Christmas present. Even if that did not reduce their death rate, so it would be at least as effective as this new drug. It would cost 90% less, and I think patients would have a much higher quality of life and fewer side effects with the Christmas present.
Link to full article on STAT news on Repatha and its effect on cardiovascular disease.