In The News

Cardiology News: PCSK9 Inhibitors

by Seth J. Baum MD

Recently, there have been several articles discussing the development, efficacy, cost and long-term impact of novel cholesterol lowering drugs – called PCSK9 inhibitors – new drugs that show the capacity to greatly reduce the levels of LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol in an individual’s bloodstream. Insurance providers have pushed back aggressively on prescriptions written for this class of medications. Techniques such as complex prior authorizations (PA), step therapy (fail first), requirements for genetic testing, and poor administration of appeals have led to a lack of access to the PCSK9i for our sickest patients. In response, the ASPC ( began an initiative with representatives from the NLA, ACC, AACE, and the FH Foundation to address and resolve these issues. Our efforts have received a good deal of positive feedback. Below are three articles in which our initiative is mentioned.

One such article is featured in The New York Times. The article entitled, Study Shows Promise for Expensive Cholesterol Drugs, but They Are Still Hard to Obtain, examines the results of a study published in JAMA that coincided with a presentation at the AHA Scientific Sessions in New Orleans. The article includes interviews with: Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic; Dr. Elliott M. Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Dr. Sean Harper of Amgen; Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for American Health Insurance Plans; and me, President of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology (ASPC). The piece highlights the tremendous positive potential of the drugs, as well as insurers’ reluctance to approve their use – ostensibly due to their cost.

You can read the entire article at

Last week Bloomberg News published a piece entitled, Amgen’s Repatha Unclogs Arteries in Good Sign for Future Sales. The article examines both, the results of Amgen’s Glagov study on the cholesterol reduction impact of their PCSK9i drug, Repatha, and the effect that pricing has had on insurer acceptance and sales of the drug. Interviewed in the piece are Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic; Eliot Brinton, president of the Utah Lipid Center; and me, President of the ASPC.

You can read the entire article at

Finally, the international news service, Reuters, also published an article on the Amgen study entitled, Amgen Cholesterol Drug Reduces Artery-Clogging Plaque in Study.  Quoted were Dr. Stephen Nicholls, one of the study’s lead directors; Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, and me, President of the ASPC.

You can read the entire article at

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You can find out more about my treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease and related conditions at my website,

To learn more about the life-threatening genetic cholesterol condition Familial Hypercholesterolemia, visit

Visit the American Society of Preventive Cardiology to access evidence-based information and educational programs on cardiovascular health, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease at: