Patients may be willing to take pills for longer lives, healthier outcomes

Daily pill-taking is worth years of cardiovascular health to patients, according to a study published Feb. 3 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The study looked at the utility of taking cardiovascular prevention medicine by asking patients how much shorter they were willing to live, how much more they were willing to pay and what risk of death they were willing to have to avoid taking medications.

Robert Hutchins, MD, MPH, of the general internal medicine division at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues used a cross-sectional internet survey to determine preferences for 1,000 individuals nationwide. They analyzed responses using time trade-off, willingness to pay and standard gamble methods. Utility scores were based on a scale from 0 to 1; the higher the number the more beneficial to the patient.

They found that when examining time trade-off, the mean utility for cardiovascular prevention pills was 0.99. Approximately 70 percent of respondents stated they would trade no time to avoid taking pills. Responses analyzed through standard gamble revealed 62 percent were unwilling to risk any chance of death to avoid pill-taking. Further, responses indicated a general willingness to pay $1,445 to avoid taking one pill daily, although 41 percent were unwilling to pay any amount to avoid pill-taking (mean utility: .994).

While no specific medication was the target of the study, Hutchins et al wrote that utility value of pill-taking in general has the ability to influence preventive interventions for cardiovascular disease. They noted that this method of cost-effective analysis should be considered when assessing utility from an adverse outcomes standpoint.