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Acta Cardiol. 2009 Feb;64(1):1-10.

Cost-effectiveness of statins in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and economic analysis for Belgium.

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  • 1Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE), Brussels, Belgium.



8% of total drug spending by the Belgian government goes to statins. The aim of this study is to determine the cost-effectiveness of statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged Belgian populations.


Economic evaluations were identified in a systematic literature search and were critically appraised. Furthermore, because prices decreased drastically, a previously published model was adapted applying recent cost data from the Belgian national health insurance. Eleven full economic evaluations were identified. Nine studies compared statins with no treatment and presented heterogeneous results. If alternative interventions, such as smoking cessation or low-dose aspirin treatment were included in the analysis, statin therapy became less cost-effective. Prescribing the cheapest statin on the Belgian market (< Euro 90 medication cost per year) resulted in an incremental cost of Euro 29,173 per life-year gained (LYG) in a male high-risk group aged 60 compared to low-dose aspirin. The incremental cost in a male moderate-risk group aged 50 was Euro 87,022/LYG. Low-dose aspirin was more cost-effective ranging from Euro 3,854/LYG to Euro 29,509/LYG compared to smoking cessation therapy. Smoking cessation therapy was the most cost-effective intervention, providing savings compared to no treatment.


In Belgium, the cost-effectiveness of statins for the primary prevention of CVD is rather elevated in comparison with low-dose aspirin, even if the cheapest statin is prescribed. From an economic point of view, prevention with low-dose aspirin is more cost-effective and may present a first choice in primary prevention. Smoking cessation, which is a dominant strategy, should be encouraged at all times.

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