The FDA recently approved a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. These new medications could substantially reduce heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths, however they are very expensive. A new study evaluated the cost-effectiveness of this therapy and how increased use might affect the U.S. healthcare system.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco used a simulation model that included all U.S. adults 35 and older and evaluated outcomes such as expected numbers of deaths due to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes, and balanced this with the cost and potential benefits of these drugs.

With an estimated 9 million people eligible for this therapy and a price of $14,000 per patient per year, researchers estimated that total prescription drugs expenditures could increase by 40 percent. In order to be cost-effective, the PCSK9 inhibitor costs would have to come down to about $4,000 a year.