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The pricing of statins and implications for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme expenditure

To the Editor: Following two articles in the Journal,1,2 I wish to provide an update on the pricing of statins in Australia and the implications for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) expenditure. I was prompted to do so by a recent review by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which was instigated by the Senate when it passed legislation enabling the current pharmaceutical pricing arrangements.3 The purpose of the review was to determine if there was new evidence on whether rosuvastatin and atorvastatin should be included in the existing statins therapeutic group.

A summary of the PBAC review, which was released publicly in August 2012, reaffirmed previous recommendations that atorvastatin and rosuvastatin are more effective than simvastatin in lowering cholesterol levels.4 It also noted that the current evidence did not change the PBAC’s previous advice that only an average price differential of 12.5% between atorvastatin and simvastatin was acceptable.4 This has important implications, as the ex-manufacturer price of simvastatin has fallen significantly…