Is Repatha the $14,000 cholesterol fighting drug worth its price? The results of the long anticipated FOURNIER clinical trial for Amgen’s cholesterol fighting Repatha (evolcumab) have been released. Repatha is a PCKS9 drug which is hoped to be an alternative to statin drugs such as Lipitor; the two goals of the trial was to discover if Repatha lowered risks to cholesterol induced cardiovascular events and cardiovascular death.
The details of the FOURNIER trial presented at The American College of Cardiology meeting for the Amgen manufactured Repatha found “significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular events”; the correlation to reducing cardiovascular deaths was not as significant.
Repatha has been tagged the $14,000 cholesterol drug as the drug is not covered by insurance. The annual cost for the two new cholesterol medications Praluent and Repatha remains at $14,000 per year; both drugs are approved PCKS9 inhibitors prescribed to lower the bad cholesterol which threatens the health of many Americans.
The Statin Alternatives Praluent & Repatha Approved PCKS9 Inhibitors
Praluent and Repatha belong to a class of drugs known as the PCKS9 inhibitors. Manufactured by two different drug companies, the two PCKS9 drugs are the only two on the market in the United States. PCKS9 inhibitors were discovered in 2003 and when I wrote about the promise of the two PCKS9 drugs last year the drugs were in the final phase of clinical trials.
Praluent and Repatha have demonstrated through the clinical trials that LDL ‘the bad cholesterol’ can be lowered with the use of the drugs as a cholesterol medicine. However the two drugs have not been linked to lowering cardiovascular risks to date. UPDATE: The results of the FOURNIER trial in 2017 have promising results for Repatha.
High Cholesterol Medication
PCKS9 could be considered a competitor or alternative to widely used statin drugs such as Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor. As with any drugs the statin drugs do contain a list of possible adverse side effects; Praluent and Repatha are a statin alternative for patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of a statin drug.
The $14,000 Cholesterol Medicine
The cost of Praluent and Repatha is a minimum of $14,000 per year. Cigna has negotiated a value based contract with the drug companies in order to obtain a discount off the list price. However the discount does have ramifications for the patient in the form of performance standards.
As apart of the value based negotiation between Cigna and the drug companies there will be strict performance monitoring of the drugs. Cigna will be reviewing patients’ lab reports, adherence records, possible drug interactions and side effects to gather data; the data will be compared to the clinical trial data to ensure the drugs meet or exceed the data gathered in the clinical trials.
Should the PCKS9 drugs not meet the standards then a further discount is available. Value based contracts between insurance companies and drug companies are a relatively new pricing model in which performance standards are directly linked to the price of the drug.