A retrospective analysis of a large U.S. managed care database showed that patients who took Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering medicine Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) Tablets had a significant 14 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, compared with patients who took simvastatin.
Today, physicians and healthcare plans are switching patients between what is believed to be comparable LDL-lowering doses of statins and assuming that this will result in similar cardiovascular benefits.
To replicate real-world physician and payor behavior, this study was rigorously designed to adjust for expected differences of Lipitor and simvastatin LDL lowering based on dose. Lipitor patients achieved a significant additional 14 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events compared with patients taking simvastatin, even after the dose adjustments.
"This analysis is important for physicians, employers and formulary directors at managed care companies who are making real-world treatment decisions for patients," said Dr. Robert Vogel, an author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. "This further supports the cardiovascular benefits previously seen with Lipitor."
"This study is significant because it calls into question whether statins should be prescribed interchangeably through simple dose adjustments," said Dr. Michael Berelowitz, senior vice president of Pfizer's global medical division.
The analysis was presented at the American Heart Association's 47th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.
Netherlands analysis: In a previously published real-world study of a general practice database with approximately 3,500 patients in the Netherlands, characteristics such as age and cholesterol levels were measured and adjusted to account for differences among statins. This analysis demonstrated a similar finding to the analysis presented at the meeting. Patients taking Lipitor had a significant 30 percent reduction in the risk of total events compared with those taking other statins combined. Other statins included simvastatin, pravastatin, fluvastatin, and cerivastatin.
Given the results of these two studies, Pfizer will work with managed care organizations and other healthcare networks to further understand the benefit of Lipitor compared to simvastatin after adjustments to cholesterol levels.
"Based on these important findings, it would be appropriate for health organizations responsible for lipid lowering formulary and treatment decisions to evaluate their own data and determine if they see similar findings," said Dr. Berelowitz. "We expect that there will be upcoming publications and expanded medical information that will continue to contribute to this important discussion around the benefits of Lipitor."