Background — In March 2004, the Reversal of Atherosclerosis With Aggressive Lipid Lowering (REVERSAL) trial demonstrated that intensive lipid-lowering therapy (atorvastatin 80 mg/d) reduced progression of coronary atherosclerosis compared with moderate lipid-lowering therapy (pravastatin 40 mg/d). The following month, the Pravastatin or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy–Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction 22 (PROVE IT–TIMI 22) study demonstrated the superiority of intensive (atorvastatin 80 mg/d) versus moderate (pravastatin 40 mg/d) lipid-lowering therapy for reducing death or cardiovascular events in patients suffering from an acute coronary syndrome. We sought to determine the impact of these 2 trials on trends in intensive versus moderate statin therapy in Ontario, Canada.
Methods and Results — This is a retrospective time-series analysis of statin prescribing between June 1997 and September 2004 in Ontario, Canada, for all residents age 65 years and older. The publication of the PROVE IT–TIMI 22 and REVERSAL trials was associated with a sustained and statistically significant increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed for atorvastatin 80 mg (range, 272 to 635 additional prescriptions per month), whereas the number of prescriptions filled for pravastatin 40 mg did not change. Similarly, it resulted in a temporal increase in the relative market share of atorvastatin at a dose of 80 mg versus that of atorvastatin at a dose of 40 mg. However, the proportion of simvastatin prescriptions for 80 mg relative to 40 mg did not change over time, implying a drug-specific effect rather than a class effect in prescribing practice.
Conclusions — The publication of the PROVE IT–TIMI 22 and REVERSAL trials resulted in a significant sustained increase in the use of intensive compared with moderate statin therapy. This shift was evident primarily in an increased use of high-dose atorvastatin and did not appear to be generalizable to other statins.
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Drugs (lipid lowering)