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By Dharmesh Patel, MD

When you or someone you love has a cardiovascular event, life gets real – fast. I’ve seen it with my own patients.  The trivial day-to-day concerns evaporate as survival takes sole focus. Health is no longer an afterthought, but a priority.

I find it ironic, therefore, that the availability of new cardiovascular medications lies in the hands of people far removed from real heart patients’ problems.  I’m speaking of the health economists at Boston’s Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.  They are currently reviewing three new drugs to lower LDL cholesterol, and their review could inform whether health insurers make the medications accessible for patients.

Demonstrating an alarming disconnect from clinical experience, the economists have set up models that simply don’t reflect real life.  For instance:

Who can bring ICER back into the real world?  In my humble opinion, health care providers.  Perhaps that’s why I, along with so many others, have taken the time to submit feedback to ICER on its draft evidence report.

For us, the issue is not just that ICER’s calculations defy real-world experience.  It’s that, despite this fact, those findings may lead to access barriers for our patients including those most at-risk for cardiac events. 

Waiting is a dangerous game for high-risk cardiovascular patients.  So I urge ICER to take into consideration the input of physicians, along with other advocates, as their economists update the evidence report.  Patients with an all-too-real risk of cardiovascular events are depending upon it.

Dharmesh Patel, MD, is a Mississippi cardiologist who serves as president of the Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health and is a member of the Alliance for Patient Access.

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