The Value of Atorvastatin Over the Product Life Cycle in the United States

Michael Grabner, Wallace Johnson, Abdulla M. Abdulhalim, Andreas Kuznik, C. Daniel Mullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: US health care reform mandates the reduction of wasteful health care spending while maintaining quality of care. Introducing new drugs into crowded therapeutic classes may be viewed as offering "me-too" (new drugs with a similar mechanism of action compared to existing drugs) drugs without incremental benefit. This article presents an analysis of the incremental costs and benefits of atorvastatin, a lipid-lowering agent. Objective: This analysis models the cost-effectiveness of atorvastatin over the product life cycle. Methods: The yearly cost-effectiveness of atorvastatin compared to simvastatin was modeled from 1997 to 2030 from the point of view of a US third-party payer. Estimates for incremental costs (in US $) and effects (in quality-adjusted life-years [QALYs]) for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events were taken from previously published literature and adjusted for changes in drug prices over time. Estimates of total statin use were derived using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine variations in study parameters, including drug prices, indications, and discount rates. Results: Assuming increasing statin use over time (with a mean of 1.07 million new users per year) and a 3% discount rate, the cumulative incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of atorvastatin versus simvastatin ranged from cost-savings at release to a maximum of $45,066/QALY after 6 years of generic simvastatin use in 2012. Over the full modeled life cycle (1997-2030), the cumulative ICER of atorvastatin was $20,331/QALY. The incremental value of atorvastatin to US payers (after subtracting costs) was estimated at $44.57 to $194.78 billion, depending on willingness to pay. Findings from the sensitivity analyses were similar. A hypothetical situation in which atorvastatin did not exist was associated with a reduction in total expenditures but also a loss of QALYs gained. Conclusion: The cumulative ICER of atorvastatin varied across the product life cycle, increasing during the period between generic simvastatin entry and generic atorvastatin entry, and decreasing thereafter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1433-1443
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Atorvastatin
  • Drug product life cycle
  • Health care costs
  • Me-too drugs
  • Simvastatin
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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