Can cheap generic statins achieve national cholesterol lowering targets?

Duncan Petty , David Lloyd 1
School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds; 1 Prescribing Support Unit, The Information Centre for Health and Social Care, Leeds, UK

Objectives: The Department of Health in England recommend that simvastatin and pravastatin should be prescribed in at least 69% of statin prescriptions in primary care on the assumption that these drugs (and at doses prescribed) are as effective as alternatives. We aimed to identify whether primary care trusts (PCTs) that used a high proportion of simvastatin and pravastatin performed as well on the Quality and Outcome Framework (QOF) targets related to cholesterol as those PCTs that used less.

Methods: QOF data were obtained for all PCTs for 2005–2006. National prescribing data for statins was analysed for the same time period. The square of the Pearson correlation was used to assess the association between the two.

Results: The average PCT values for the three QOF indicators for CHD, stroke and diabetes were 78% (range 66–88%), 72% (58–82%) and 79% (67–88%), respectively. The percentage use of simvastatin and pravastatin by PCTs varied from 18–84%, with a mean of 57%. There was no evidence of any association between the use of simvastatin and pravastatin as a percentage of all statin items and success in achieving the QOF targets.

Conclusions: PCTs that had a high proportion of simvastatin and pravastatin use were just as successful achieving cholesterol targets for patients with coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke as those that used more atorvastatin, rosuvastatin or fluvastatin. This supports the policy to use the less expensive generic statins.

Source: J Health Serv Res Policy 2008;13:99-102

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