Results from the USAGE survey, the largest known cholesterol survey in the U.S. involving more than 10,100 statin users, were presented at the American Heart Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions, the leading gathering of cardiovascular disease experts in the country. John O’Hurley, Seinfeld and Dancing with the Stars actor and high cholesterol patient, is dedicated to educational efforts in support of the USAGE survey.
The USAGE survey “Understanding Statin use in America and Gaps in Education,” is the first survey of its kind to uncover the reasons why patients stop taking their cholesterol statin medications.(1,2) High cholesterol is one of the leading risk factors of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S.
“When I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol, I struggled with understanding the seriousness of my health condition,” said John O’Hurley. “Thanks to in-depth conversations with my doctor and a personalized treatment plan including diet and exercise, I have lowered my cholesterol levels and am taking control of my health. It is my hope that the USAGE survey tools and resources help patients to understand the importance of managing high cholesterol and give them clearer direction on how to address concerns with their doctor.”
While doctors write more than 200 million prescriptions for statins each year, adherence to treatment remains a significant issue. Previous studies indicate that nearly 75% of new statin users stop therapy by the end of the first year. Problems with statin adherence are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes—including heart attack and death – and contribute to the rising costs of heart disease; expected to reach $818 billion by 2030.
“Many patients ignore their doctor’s concerns about high cholesterol levels, or fail to take their statin as prescribed,” said Dr. Eliot Brinton, spokesman for the National Lipid Association, who also serves as Director of Atherometabolic Research at the Utah Foundation for Biomedical Research. “It is important for doctors and patients to work together as a team to make sure the appropriate treatments – diet, lifestyle and a statin, if needed – are prescribed and followed properly. The USAGE survey results can help educate healthcare providers and the general public about the importance of cholesterol management and will empower patients to take action against this critical health issue.”
The USAGE survey explored patient perceptions, attitudes and behaviors about statins, from reasons why patients stopped treatment to education around therapeutic lifestyle changes and the high incidence of potential drug-drug interactions (DDIs).
The USAGE survey shows side effects and cost are the paramount concerns for patients who stop taking their statins:
Side effects (62%) and cost (17%) emerged as the leading reasons why survey respondents stopped taking their statin, with lack of treatment efficacy (12%) cited as third most important.
While 85% of respondents cited their doctors as one of their two most valuable sources for health information, 34% discontinued their statin without consulting their doctor.
While 81% of patients surveyed report being satisfied with their doctor’s explanation of treatment, there is still room for improvement in the doctor-patient dialogue:
Recollection of cholesterol levels is poor-respondents were more likely to remember their pant size from high school than their most recent cholesterol level (64% vs. 46%).
The average respondent uses three prescription and/or non-prescription products with drug-drug interaction potential; yet only 38% of all respondents stated they were concerned with potential drug interactions.
Importantly, four out of ten respondents (42%) who are concerned about DDIs but did not speak with their doctor about it say they rely on their pharmacist to identify potential interactions. While discussions at the pharmacy are important, it is also critical for doctors to be a part of this conversation to address concerns about potential DDIs.
Helping to fill the gaps in education about statin use, the USAGE survey website provides downloadable tools and resources, including patient- and medical provider-directed Discussion Guides, a Medication Tracker and presentation for healthcare providers to educate others in the medical community about the USAGE survey and its findings.
About the USAGE Survey
The USAGE survey was fielded from September 21, 2011 to October 17, 2011 via an Internet-based, self-administered questionnaire developed by Kantar Health. All participants self-reported they were over 18 years old and diagnosed with high cholesterol by a doctor. Survey respondents were predominantly Caucasian (92%), female (61%), middle income ($62,912/yr), with health insurance (93%) and with a mean age of 61 years.
About the National Lipid Association
The National Lipid Association (NLA) is a nonprofit, multidisciplinary medical society focused on enhancing the practice of lipid management in clinical medicine. The NLA represents more than 3,000 members in the United States and provides continuing medical education for physicians and other healthcare professionals to advance professional development and promote certification in clinical lipidology.
About Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (KPA) is a pharmaceutical company specializing primarily in the area of cardiometabolic diseases. The company, started in 2001 as ProEthic Pharmaceuticals, Inc., was acquired by Kowa Company, Ltd. in September of 2008. A privately held company, KPA directs its efforts towards the acquisition, licensing and marketing of pharmaceutical products.
About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world’s most urgent medical needs.