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Spending on cholesterol-reducing statins more than doubles in just five years

Spending on statins, drugs used to reduce artery-clogging cholesterol, increased 156 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Statins can reduce a person's risk of heart attack or stroke by lowering "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, another fatty substance in the blood, and raising "good" cholesterol levels.

AHRQ found that spending on statins jumped from approximately $8 billion to almost $20 billion during the five-year period. Statins include drugs such as Lipitor, Lescol, Pravachol, and Zocor. AHRQ's analysis of statin use between 2000 and 2005 also found:

  • The number of people who bought at least 1 statin increased from about 16 million to 30 million.
  • The total number of outpatient prescriptions for statins rose from about 90 million to 174 million.
  • Average annual spending by individual statin users - whether costs were absorbed by the user, an insurer or both- increased from $484 to $661.

These data are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

For more information, go to MEPS Statistical Brief #205: Trends in Statins Utilization and Expenditures for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2000 and 2005.

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