A New Option for Cholesterol and Heart Health by Elizabeth Klodas, MD

The FDA just announced the approval of an new drug called Praluent®. Hailed as a giant advance in care, this injectable medication can lower cholesterol by as much as 70%. But here's the real news. The medication will cost – wait for it – $14,600 per patient per year.   

The drug has been approved for adult patients with a history of heart disease who require cholesterol lowering beyond that achieved with statin pills alone. “Patients with heart disease" is a vast population, including at least five million individuals that will be eligible for the new drug. The cost for this group will be enormous: $73 Billion per year in case you don't have a calculator handy. It is typically around $73 billion to cover the cost of ONE drug. For ONE year to treat ONE risk factor for ONE disease. And SOMEONE will have to pay for it. $73 billion translates into an insurance premium increase of $1000 per year for every household in the U.S. 

The food as medicine approach, which not only addresses the symptom (high cholesterol) but also the most frequent underlying cause (poor diet) has never been more relevant or more needed. $14,600 buys a LOT of food, and if it's the right food, it provides you multiple other health benefits to boot.  Typically only food has the power to address it all.   Our food system is broken. It’s difficult to navigate through the maze of claims and conflicting advice.  This is what created the huge market for statins in the first place.  

But that doesn’t mean we should give up on improving nutrition and instead celebrate new enablers of the status quo.  If food is the problem, changing the food is the solution. Seeing the obvious, I helped found Step One Foods, a simple, strategic eating system based in the most rigorous science. Our results have been so tremendous that the foods are being evaluated in clinical trials at both Mayo Clinic and University of Manitoba as a possible alternative for patients with statin intolerance.  We can literally eat our way out of the chronic diseases that plague us at a price tag that is a miniscule fraction of the cost of an injectable drug.  

As a board-certified cardiologist I can tell you that strategic nutrition has the ability to improve health far beyond what any medication can achieve.  At a fraction of the cost., and without side effects.  What we eat matters.



Known as America’s Health Coach, Dr. Asa Andrew is a national best-selling author and host of the #1 Health Talk Radio Show in North America. In addition to his hit television series, Dr. Asa is a regular contributor to NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and FOX and regarded as a healthcare leader in the field of lifestyle medicine.