Study shows 150 percent jump in statin use

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Use of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins rose by 156 percent between 2000 and 2005, with spending jumping from $7.7 billion to $19.7 billion, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported on Wednesday.

“The number of people purchasing statins nearly doubled when comparing 2000 and 2005, rising from 15.8 million people to 29.7 million people,” the AHRQ report reads.

The total number of outpatient prescriptions for statins rose from about 90 million in 2000 to nearly 174 million in 2005. Each individual spent $484 a year on average on statins in 2000; this rose to $661 by 2005.

Statins are wildly popular drugs that lower the risk of heart attack or stroke by lowering levels of so-called fatty substances such as bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and raising levels of “good” cholesterol.

They include atorvastatin, made by Pfizer under the brand name Lipitor; pravastatin or Pravachol, made by Bristol Myers Squibb; fluvastatin, made by Novartis under the brand name Lescol, and several others.

Reporting by Maggie Fox: editing by Julie Steenhuysen