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Coverage of inexpensive drugs may increase length and quality of life after heart attack
Date:11/30/2009

strategy for the five medications would result in average survival of 7.02 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) after heart attack at an average cost of $20,423 per patient, the study found.

The status quo strategy resulted in an average survival of 6.13 QALYs at an average cost of $17,173 per patient.

(In health care research, the term "QALY" is used to describe survival time based not just on quantity of years but also on quality of life. A year in perfect health is considered equal to 1.0 QALY. The value of a year in ill health would be lowerfor example, a year spent in hospital might have a value equal to 0.5 QALY.)

"Full coverage would save lives at very low cost and would be cost-effective compared to the status quo," says Dr. Dhalla. "Our model suggests that providing free medications to people after heart attack would result in one more year of life for each additional $3,663 spent by government. We used very conservative assumptions, and it is quite possible that a full coverage strategy would even be cost-saving for governments over the long-term."

The researchers say any added cost would be significantly below current thresholds used to decide whether new drugs and medical devices should be eligible for public funding.

Although the study looked at heart attack because that is where the evidence is strongest, there are many diseases where cheap, effective medications are available.

"Policy makers may wish to consider providing medications free of charge to all patients with chronic illnesses where specific drug treatments are known to be both highly cost-effective and associated with poor adherencefor example, preventing kidney and cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes," Dr. Dhalla says. "Providing medications free of charge where they are likely to have the most value is one way policy makers can allocate limited public resources more efficiently."


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Contact: Julie Saccone
sacconej@smh.toronto.on.ca
416-864-5047
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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