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Keywords:

  • Simvastatin;
  • United Kingdom;
  • behind-the-counter drugs

Objective

To examine how the 2004 introduction of behind-the-counter (BTC) simvastatin in the United Kingdom affected utilization, prices, and expenditures.

Data Sources/Study Setting

Secondary data on simvastatin utilization, prices, and expenditures between 1997 and 2007 in the United Kingdom and four other countries.

Study Design

We used a difference-in-differences approach to estimate how the introduction of BTC simvastatin affected utilization, prices, and expenditures. This approach compares outcomes in the United Kingdom before and after the introduction of BTC simvastatin, using outcomes in countries where the drug remained prescription only to control for possible confounders.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods

Data on simvastain utilization, prices, and expenditures between 1997 and 2007 in the United Kingdom and four other countries were obtained from an outside vendor.

Principal Findings

The introduction of BTC simvastatin in the United Kingdom led to a significant increase in utilization of simvastatin and a significant decline in expenditures for simvastatin purchases. Our results are robust to alternate model specifications.

Conclusions

Behind-the-counter statins have the potential to simultaneously increase use of statins and lower expenditures.