They’re considered the first line treatment choice for millions of patients living with cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.

But, for many patients living with cardiovascular disease, statins alone don’t work.

“My legs were hurting. I thought I was getting the flu,” Joanne shared as part of Patients Rising Voices of Value series. “I just didn’t seem to figure out why I was feeling badly.”

Eventually, Joanne worked with her doctor to overcome obstacles from her insurance company to gain access to a new innovative treatment that worked for her.

It’s an important reminder for the millions of patients living with cardiovascular disease: treatment innovations can improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and ensure a higher quality of life.

“In about one in five people, a statin doesn’t lower cholesterol enough,” writes Dr. Gregory Curfman, Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Health Publications. “Some people can’t take a statin because of side effects like muscle pain, liver damage, or the development of diabetes.”

One of those patients who experienced severe side effects from statins was Joanne Smith.

Cardio Patients Need Right Treatment to Meet Their Unique Needs

More than 80 million Americans are living with cardiovascular disease, which causes hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 17 million people have coronary heart disease, which causes a build-up of fat in the walls of the arteries around the heart.

“Not every patient will respond to the first line treatment,” explains Terry Wilcox, executive director of Patients Rising, a national patient advocacy non-profit organization. “New treatment innovations give doctors more options to develop the right plan for each and every patient.”

In recent years, doctors have found success by combining existing treatments with additive therapies for cardiovascular disease. However, those treatments are now being targeted by insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers in their never-ending quest for higher profits.

ICER Draft Evidence Report on Additive Cardiovascular Disease Therapies

This fall, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review will conduct its insurance profit analysis for icosapent ethyl and rivaroxaban, two new additive cardiovascular disease therapies. ICER’s report could affect whether cardiovascular patients are able to access the treatments prescribed by their doctors.

Draft Evidence Report on Additive Cardiovascular Disease Therapies

Patient advocates warn that ICER’s analysis may be flawed from the start. For example, ICER’s analysis is relying on data from a risk calculator that “does not paint an accurate picture of the patient population for which ICER is assessing treatments.”

“ICER continues to use a flawed methodology, ignoring real-world data and quality of life outcomes that matter to patients in favor of data that easily crosswalks into the discriminatory QALY metric,” says Tony Coelho, Chairman, Partnership to Improve Patient Care. “We urge ICER to reconsider both its data sources and its concerning theory that health care must be rationed to achieve savings and efficiency in our health care system.”

Wilcox’s patient advocacy group, Patients Rising, is urging patients to make their voice heard by attending the the ICER meeting at the end of this month in St. Louis. 

“Additive therapies are one more tool in a doctor’s toolbox,” says Wilcox. “The most cost-effective health care system empowers doctors to find and prescribe the right treatment for every patient.”