Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coverage of inexpensive drugs may increase length and quality of life after heart attack

Date:
November 30, 2009
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
Providing free medications to people after heart attack could add years to patients' lives at a relatively low cost for provincial governments in Canada, according to a new study.

Providing free medications to people after heart attack could add years to patients' lives at a relatively low cost for provincial governments, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

"Many patients are not benefiting from effective prescribed medications because they simply don't fill their prescriptions," says Dr. Irfan Dhalla, the study's lead author and a physician at St. Michael's Hospital. "There is growing evidence that having to pay for medications out of pocket is a major reason."

Public coverage of pharmaceuticals in Canada is neither universal nor uniform because the Canada Health Act covers only physician and hospital services. According to data published in 2005, 11 per cent of Canadians had only catastrophic public coverage, and 4 per cent had no coverage at all.

The goal of the study was to demonstrate to policymakers what would happen if governments fully covered the costs of five heart attack medications -- a beta blocker, low-dose aspirin, an ACE inhibitor, a statin, and a relatively new drug called clopidogrel -- which are routinely prescribed for patients who have survived a heart attack.

The use of these effective and relatively inexpensive drugs has led to a dramatic decline in deaths from cardiovascular disease in recent years. Between 1980 and 2000, mortality from cardiovascular disease in Canada decreased by approximately 50%.

The researchers compared the benefits and the costs of two options:

  • The "status quo" option reflects the current situation across Canada where people who don't have private drug insurance or who aren't eligible for government-funded drug programs are expected to pay the full cost of their prescriptions after a heart attack.
  • The "full coverage" option would see governments pay the full cost of five recommended medications.

Implementing the full-coverage strategy for the five medications would result in average survival of 7.02 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) after heart attack at an average cost of $20,423 per patient, the study found.

The status quo strategy resulted in an average survival of 6.13 QALYs at an average cost of $17,173 per patient.

(In health care research, the term "QALY" is used to describe survival time based not just on quantity of years but also on quality of life. A year in perfect health is considered equal to 1.0 QALY. The value of a year in ill health would be lower -- for example, a year spent in hospital might have a value equal to 0.5 QALY.)

"Full coverage would save lives at very low cost and would be cost-effective compared to the status quo," says Dr. Dhalla. "Our model suggests that providing free medications to people after heart attack would result in one more year of life for each additional $3,663 spent by government. We used very conservative assumptions, and it is quite possible that a full coverage strategy would even be cost-saving for governments over the long-term."

The researchers say any added cost would be significantly below current thresholds used to decide whether new drugs and medical devices should be eligible for public funding.

Although the study looked at heart attack because that is where the evidence is strongest, there are many diseases where cheap, effective medications are available.

"Policy makers may wish to consider providing medications free of charge to all patients with chronic illnesses where specific drug treatments are known to be both highly cost-effective and associated with poor adherence -- for example, preventing kidney and cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes," Dr. Dhalla says. "Providing medications free of charge where they are likely to have the most value is one way policy makers can allocate limited public resources more efficiently."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Coverage of inexpensive drugs may increase length and quality of life after heart attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130131333.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2009, November 30). Coverage of inexpensive drugs may increase length and quality of life after heart attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130131333.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Coverage of inexpensive drugs may increase length and quality of life after heart attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130131333.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins