Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and disability in Canada, exerting a significant societal burden. Cardiovascular drugs are the most commonly prescribed medications in the country, and expenditures outpace overall drug prescription increases.

In 2006, total costs of cardiovascular medications exceeded $5 billion, with statins accounting for almost 40% of the expenditure. If the trend continues, costs are expected to rise to approximately $10.6 billion in 2020 and could threaten the sustainability of public drug insurance programs.

Factors such as population growth, increasing rates of hypertension, pharmaceutical cost inflation and an ageing population only partly explain the significant increase in costs. Variations exist across provinces, with higher costs in the east. Increases in prescription volume and use of new and more expensive cardiovascular medications are also fuelling this rise. However, this practice needs to be examined as some older, established drugs may be the most cost-effective to use.

"We found that the medication classes with the greatest increases in prescriptions dispensed and associated expenditures were angiotensin receptor blockers, antiplatelets, statins and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors," state Dr. Cynthia Jackevicius, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto and Western University of Health Sciences in Ponoma, USA, and scientists from the Canadian Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Team (CCORT). Many of these medications are brand name drugs and the researchers suggest that older drugs may still be the best option.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences