Pharmacoeconomics of Hypertension Management: The Place of Combination Therapy
Pharmacological treatment of hypertension has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, coronary events, heart failure and progression of renal disease. However, rates of successful blood pressure control remain low among treated patients while antihypertensive medication represents a large and increasing proportion of healthcare expenditure in many countries. Several influential pharmacoeconomic analyses have confirmed the cost effectiveness of conventional antihypertensive treatments, usually involving monotherapy with diuretics or beta-blockers, compared with alternative strategies. Recent research has shown that a considerable proportion of the total cost of antihypertensive treatment in general practice is due to factors such as inadequate blood pressure control, poor compliance with therapy, discontinuation and switching between therapies. These factors operate to a much lesser extent in well-conducted clinical trials, and have not been fully incorporated into most economic studies. Some novel strategies, particularly low dose combinations of antihypertensive agents, may offer advantages in terms of efficacy, reduced adverse effects and improved compliance with treatment. There is therefore a need for comprehensive pharmacoeconomic analyses of novel strategies, taking these additional factors into account. Until such studies are available, the wider use of low dose combination therapy and other novel strategies should not be held back on the basis of earlier economic studies that have not included all relevant considerations.
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