NHS costs for CHD treatment are rapidly rising and now exceed £2 billion annually, having increased from £1.73 billion in 1999. In 2005, the cost of statins alone exceeded £840 million.
Researchers found that using statins for primary prevention was less cost-effective than aspirin and beta-blockers for MI, secondary prevention, angina and heart failure.
The results of the study, the first UK-based cost-effectiveness analysis since the mid 1990s to compare the cost effectiveness of treatments, showed that the cost of statin treatment in England and Wales in 2000 was £27,828 per life years gained (LYG), reaching £69,373 per LYG in men aged 35–44. In women the costs were even higher, ranging from £10,455 to £94,645 per LYG.
By contrast, aspirin and beta-blockers each cost less than £1,000 per LYG. Other secondary prevention therapies also appeared cost-effective at £5,000 per LYG.
Lead researcher Professor Simon Capewell, from the department of public health at the University of Liverpool, said that the study showed that using statins to prevent CHD was both problematic and expensive.
‘Making dietary changes would be more cost-effective and acceptable to people than taking statins,’ he said.