BACKGROUND: Secondary coronary prevention with lipid lowering drugs have become a major issue in health policy formulation due to the large upfront investment in drug therapy. The recently completed LIPID trial with pravastatin in secondary prevention immediately raise the question whether pravastatin might be cost-effective in Switzerland.
METHODS: We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis from the perspective of third party payers. The following costs were included in the analysis: daily treatment costs of pravastatin, non fatal myocardial infarction, coronary bypass operations and stroke. Life years gained was obtained by applying the declining exponential approximation of life expectancy. All calculations were standardized to 1000 treated patients.
RESULTS: The net costs of treating 1000 patients (i.e. drug costs minus the costs of sequelae and interventions) are Fr. 3.6 Mio. In addition, a total of 430 life-years may be saved through treatment. The corresponding cost-effectiveness of pravastatin treatment is Fr. 8341 (nominal) Fr. 6985 (discounted).
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the cost-effectiveness of pravastatin in secondary prevention lie well within the threshold of other commonly accepted medical interventions and may be considered an economically viable approach for secondary coronary prevention.