Cost-effectiveness of drug therapy for hypercholesterolaemia: a review of the literature

Pharmacoeconomics. 1992 Jul;2(1):34-42. doi: 10.2165/00019053-199202010-00005.


In this article we review published studies of the cost-effectiveness of drug therapy for hypercholesterolaemia to take stock of the principal findings that have been reported to date. We identified 9 studies that met all criteria for inclusion in our review, including 3 of bile-acid sequestrants (cholestyramine, colestipol), 2 of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (lovastatin), and 4 that considered both an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (simvastatin) and a bile-acid sequestrant (cholestyramine). While these studies were largely consistent in methodological approach, some differences were noted in the costs attributed to drug therapy. The cost-effectiveness of therapy with bile-acid sequestrants was found to range from $100 000 to $209 000 per year of life saved (1991 $US) for middle-aged men (42 to 55 years of age) with moderately high cholesterol levels (280 to 290 mg/dl) and otherwise average coronary risk characteristics. Corresponding cost-effectiveness ratios that have been reported for lovastatin range from $64 000 to $82 000, while those for simvastatin range from $45 000 to $65 000. Studies to date therefore suggest that therapy with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (i.e. lovastatin and simvastatin) is substantially more cost-effective than treatment with bile-acid sequestrants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cholestyramine Resin / economics
  • Cholestyramine Resin / therapeutic use
  • Colestipol / economics
  • Colestipol / therapeutic use
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Lovastatin / analogs & derivatives
  • Lovastatin / economics
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholestyramine Resin
  • Lovastatin
  • Colestipol