New "Fast Facts" Highlights Impact of High Cholesterol on Europe

More than 50 percent of Europeans have raised cholesterol, increasing their risk of heart attack, stroke and death – and costing the EU billions every year in health care expenses and lost productivity.  So explains a new “Fast Facts” policy brief from the European Alliance for Patient Access, a division of the Global Alliance for Patient Access.


Raised LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, “the leading cause of death in Europe,” the brief notes.  High cholesterol and its related conditions also have a downstream societal effect, and a tremendous financial impact. Examples include:

  • Cardiovascular disease annually costs the EU economy €54 billion in lost productivity, €111 billion in health care expenses and €45 billion in informal care, and

  • Stroke patients have an increased likelihood of permanent work disability.

But patients can address their high cholesterol, reducing their risk of these and other conditions, and limiting their burden.

Physicians can support patients through lifestyle modifications such as eating nutritious foods, limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking tobacco.  Yet these changes may not be enough for all patients. Physician can also prescribe medications “to guard against potentially fatal cardiovascular disease,” the brief explains.

Statins are typically the first-line pharmacological treatment.  But, for some patients who do not respond to statins, physicians may prescribe innovative PCSK9 inhibitors.  Research has shown the “cholesterol busting” medicine is particularly effective for people who have a family history of a cholesterol-related condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia.

Last May, the European Commission approved the PSCK9 inhibitor evolocumab for another indication: to prevent heart attack and stroke for patients who have already survived a cardiac event.  This approval gives Europeans another secondary prevention tool, one that could save their life.

To learn more, read “Fast Facts: Impact of High Cholesterol.”


***PRESS RELEASE*** Statement from Cardiovascular Patient Advocates on Troubling ICER Report on PCSK9 Inhibitors

STATEMENT FROM KEITH FERDINAND, MD, CARDIOLOGIST:

“ICER’s report is a disappointment for patients and physicians and other practitioners who have seen expected results with these drugs. For patients suffering with extremely high cholesterol, these medications can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, ICER’s report could jeopardize many patient’s ability to access the life-saving medication they and their physicians and other providers have determined is the best course of care.”

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back for Heart Patients

A money-back deal for cholesterol-lowering PCSK9 inhibitors doesn’t cut costs enough, claims a new analysis from a University of Pittsburgh researcher.  The drug’s manufacturer says the numbers used to calculate her cost figures don’t reflect reality.  But the voice that’s missing from this public debate is the one that arguably has the most to lose – patients, who already struggle to access breakthrough cardiovascular therapies.

Access to PCSK9 Inhibitors

Approved by the FDA to treat patients with genetic high cholesterol and those who have already experienced a cardiac event, PCSK9 inhibitors can lower stubborn “bad” cholesterol for patients who’ve found few results with existing treatments.  But the drugs’ price point has led health plans to establish extensive prior authorization processes to limit costs.  A national IfPA health plan report card found that 43 percent of patients are denied access to the PCSK9 inhibitor their doctor prescribes.  

Read more at Institute for Patient Access. 

***PRESS RELEASE*** Cardiovascular Health Forum to Highlight Access Barriers to Groundbreaking, Cholesterol-Lowering Therapies

Florida health plans reject nearly 50 percent of claims for treatment

WASHINGTON – On Saturday, August 5, the Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health will host a health forum, “Advancing Cardiovascular Health & Patient Access to Innovative Therapies.” The lunchtime event in Orlando at the Florida Medical Association’s annual meeting will bring together patient advocates, clinicians, and policymakers to discuss innovations in cardiovascular therapies, high rates of cardiovascular disease in Florida and barriers that patients face in accessing new cholesterol-lowering drugs. Seth Baum, MD, founder of Excel Medical Clinical Trials and president of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, will lead the forum.

ICER Report Could Intensify Barriers for Heart Patients

Accessing innovative cardiovascular drugs may soon get harder.

A new publication from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, a drug price analysis group, assigns a C+ effectiveness grade to cholesterol-lowering drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors.  The lukewarm valuation sets the stage for increased health plan barriers, despite the drugs’ effectiveness in reducing heart attack and stroke risk.

PCSK9 inhibitors work by preventing the PCSK9 protein from destroying a receptor on the liver that clears bad cholesterol. The receptor “lives” longer, clearing more LDL cholesterol for the patient.  For some patients who don’t sufficiently respond to traditional statin therapy, the drugs have offered unprecedented improvement.

Read more at Institute for Patient Access

***PRESS RELEASE*** Cardiovascular Health Advocates to Launch Change.org Petition to National Association of Insurance Commissioners Regarding Access to Cholesterol-Lowering Therapies

Petition launch coincides with cardiovascular health forum in Alabama.

WASHINGTON – On Friday, June 23, the Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health (PACH) will launch a petition on Change.org directed at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in response to the alarming rejection rates that qualifying patients across the country face in accessing new, groundbreaking, cholesterol-lowering medications known as PCSK9 inhibitors. The petition will be promoted at a series of health forums on the status of cardiovascular health in states where there is an enhanced need for access to cholesterol-lowering therapies but health plan barriers remain high. Many health plans around the country are using restrictive plan designs and utilization management tools to force patients onto less effective therapies in spite of physicians’ recommendations and compelling data.

***PRESS RELEASE*** Cardiovascular Health Forum to Highlight Access Issues to Groundbreaking, Cholesterol-Lowering Therapies; Launch National Petition for Greater Access

Alabama has the second highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country yet state health plans reject more than 50 percent of claims for treatment

WASHINGTON – On Friday, June 23, the Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health, along with Mended Hearts, will host “The Status of Cardiovascular Health in Alabama: A Forum.” The lunchtime event in Birmingham will bring together patient advocates, clinicians and policymakers to discuss innovations in cardiovascular therapies, high rates of cardiovascular disease in Alabama and barriers that patients face in accessing new cholesterol-lowering drugs. In an Alabama Health Plan Coverage Report Card from the Institute for Patient Access, data shows Alabama health plans reject more than 50 percent of claims for PCSK9 inhibitors.