FDA approves new cholesterol drug — with an eye-popping price tag

FDA approves new cholesterol drug — with an eye-popping price tag

The FDA has signed off on Praluent, a new drug that aims to lower cholesterol -- but it comes with a massive price tag that may keep Americans from enjoying the benefit.

A new drug has been approved that could help up to 10 million Americans to lower their high levels of cholesterol, but be prepared to get out your checkbooks, if you can afford it — it’ll set you back $14,600 per year.

The Food and Drug Administration approved a new cholesterol drug called Praluent, a surprising decision to the medical community. Praluent would help people with an inherited condition that resulted in high levels of LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, and also assist people who have had heart attacks or strokes, according to a USA Today report.

Studies have shown that Praluent can dramatically reduce LDL in the body, there isn’t any definitive evidence that it would do anything to prevent strokes or heart attacks, and there isn’t much data on its side effects.

The price of treatments available on the market today — known as statins — are about $250 per year, so Praluent will be a big increase in price for those who want a different option. Statins have been shown to lower LDL and the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals manufacture Praluent, which is a new class of injectible cholesterol drugs that are referred to as PCSK9 inhibitors. This marks the first major new type of cholesterol lowering medication ever since statins came out in the late 1980s.

Thanks to that big price tag, this new drug aims to result in big profits for the companies that making, perhaps adding billions of dollars in prescription drug costs nationwide. A total of $300 billion is spent each year in the United States on medications. An expensive new drug could hammer public health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, thus squeezing the taxpayer as well.

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