New Lipitor users take medicine longer than simvastatin users

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New statin users who took Lipitor were significantly more likely to stay on their medication compared to those who took simvastatin, according to an observational study of more than 186,000 patients published in the July issue of Current Medical Research and Opinion.

A subanalysis examined the persistence rates of patients aged 65 years and older, who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular events and are known to have lower persistence rates than younger patients. In the retrospective database analysis, persistence rates were defined as the number of days a patient remained on treatment in the first year following medication start date.

The researchers found that of patients without prior cardiovascular events (175,322), those treated with Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) were a significant 15 percent less likely to discontinue therapy in the first year than those treated with simvastatin (Zocor from Merck). Of patients who had at least one prior cardiovascular event (11,331), those treated with Lipitor were a significant 22 percent less likely to discontinue therapy than those treated with simvastatin, according to the authors.

 “In patients who take statins to manage their cholesterol levels, poor persistence has been linked with an increase in heart attacks and strokes in addition to higher healthcare costs,” said lead author JoAnne M. Foody, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Lipitor maker Pfizer, which funded the retrospective analysis, said it used anonymous patient-level health plan data from IMS Health, a healthcare information and consulting company.