All clinical practice guidelines recommend thiazides as a first-choice drug for the management of uncomplicated hypertension. Thiazides are also the lowest priced antihypertensive drugs. Despite this, the use of thiazides is much lower than that of other drug-classes. We wanted to estimate the potential for savings if thiazides were used as the first choice drug for the management of uncomplicated hypertension.
For six countries (Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the UK and the US) we estimated the number of people that are being treated for hypertension, and the proportion of them that are suitable candidates for thiazide-therapy. By comparing this estimate with thiazide prescribing, we calculated the number of people that could switch from more expensive medication to thiazides. This enabled us to estimate the potential drug-cost savings. The analysis was based on findings from epidemiological studies and drug trials, and data on sales and prescribing provided by IMS for the year 2000.
For Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the UK and the US the estimated potential annual savings were US$13.8 million, US$37.4 million, US$72.2 million, US$10.7 million, US$119.7 million and US$433.6 million, respectively.
Millions of dollars could be saved each year if thiazides were prescribed for hypertension in place of more expensive drugs. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions. The potential for savings is likely considerably higher and may be more than US$1 billion per year in the US.