Drug treatment and cost of cardiovascular disease in Australia
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Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme supports the use of effective drugs for the prevention and control of cardiovascular risk factors. However, there are little data available describing per person costs of medication in primary prevention and secondary prevention in the community. We aim to understand annual expenditure on cardiovascular medicines according to the level and extent of cardiovascular disease, using participants enrolled in the Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health (REACH) registry. 2873 participants were recruited into the REACH registry through 273 Australian general practices. Cardiovascular medicines review was undertaken at baseline. Average weighted costs of medications were estimated using government-reimbursed prices. Annual costs were stratified by disease extent and location. The annual mean cost of pharmaceuticals per person was AU$1307. The average reported medicine use per person across all states and participants groups varied significantly. Participants with cerebrovascular or peripheral arterial disease were prescribed less cardiovascular medication than those with coronary artery disease (CAD) (mean number of drugs 3.5 vs. 4.5, P < 0.0001) and (3.6 vs. 4.5, P < 0.0001), while those with risk factor alone had the same medication use as those with CAD (mean number 4.5). Medication use was lower in Western Australia in comparison to eastern States. Participants with existing cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease receive less preventive therapy than those with CAD or even risk factors alone. This observation is consistent across all mainland states. Given the evidence of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treating all types of vascular diseases, the present study suggests that there is scope to improve the treatment of these high-risk participants in Australia. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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