Objectives: The use of statins in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease is currently under debate. This study characterizes and identifies predictors of the persistence of use of statins in a clinical cohort of subsidized new users of similar age to the WOSCOPS trial subjects.
Methods: Medical, pharmaceutical, and demographic records for the period January 1, 1987 through December 31, 1994 were extracted from the databases of Québec's provincial health plan for a 10% random sample of social assistance recipients. Patients remained eligible for inclusion if they had received a first dispensation of a statin between January 1, 1987 and July 31, 1994. Persistence was defined as the number of days on treatment with a statin while continuing to renew dispensations within a defined time limit.
Results: New users of statins included 983 social assistance recipients who were observed for a total of 2,439,153 person-days. Median persistence on statin treatment was 173 (95% CI = 155, 204) days. Only 13% of patients persisted for 5 years of treatment. A higher index of chronic morbidity, pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and previous use of nicotinic acid were predictive of longer persistence on statin medication. Those patients whose first statin dispensation was for lovastatin discontinued treatment earlier than those whose first dispensation was for pravastatin or simvastatin.
Conclusions: New users showed low persistence on statins in a cohort of socially assisted persons aged 45–64, in spite of the minimal financial cost of the drug for such beneficiaries of Québec's provincial health plan.