Policy Documents

Patient Power: Access to Drugs

Devon M. Herrick –
February 10, 2005

Millions of Americans suffer from high cholesterol.  Unfortunately,  they can't do much about it on their own.  This means that people who could have benefited by starting drug therapy earlier in their lives will often wait until they have heart disease.  They will then be placed on expensive drugs too late.  Many will suffer heart attacks and die prematurely.  And millions of Americans already taking a prescription statin drug will pay much more per year than necessary.  If the market were allowed to develop with several competing over-the-counter statin drugs, Americans would save plenty.  Including the annual cost of lab tests for cholesterol and liver function, generic statin therapy could fall to less than $100 per year.  Compare that to the estimated $1,000 total annual cost of therapy with prescription Mevacor.