Sometimes, you need reliable research results fast. That was the case for one health plan that came to PCORnet for help understanding the prescribing patterns for PCSK9 inhibitors. These are effective but costly medications used to lower LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol).
“As the first PCORnet rapid-cycle research project, the PCSK9 inhibitor study was an exciting opportunity to test the power of PCORnet’s infrastructure,” said Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff, the study’s principal investigator. “The ability to offer the research community fast, reliable results is a central part of the PCORnet vision, and this was a chance to put that promise into practice.”
The results of the study confirmed what stakeholders suspected: that early utilization of PCSK9 inhibitors, which cost approximately $14,000 per year at the time, was low. It was predominately being prescribed by cardiologists, and use was greatest in patients with coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease.
The PCSK9 inhibitor study is one of five rapid-cycle research projects being conducted with PCORnet supported by approximately $7 million in funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The idea behind rapid-cycle research is to use PCORnet’s infrastructure to deliver fast responses to stakeholder-prioritized research questions.
The PCSK9 inhibitor study team was able to deliver results within eight months of the start of the analysis.
“Eight months is an aggressive timeline for any study, but we stayed on track, even in the face of three major holidays and two hurricanes that threatened to stall our progress,” said Cooper-DeHoff. “I’m impressed with the team and pleased that PCORnet empowered us to deliver excellent results for our customer in record time.”
The team used real-world data from electronic health records to characterize the early use of PCSK9 inhibitors, as well as other lipid lowering therapies, according to the patients’ cardiovascular risk status. The team obtained data from more than 17.5 million adults across seven geographically diverse PCORnet partner networks. Patients were all over 18 years old and interacted with their health system between July 2015, when PCSK9 inhibitors first became available, and March 2017.
The study results are important, but the most exciting part of the PCSK9 inhibitor study was the process, according to Cooper-DeHoff.
“PCORnet’s capacity for rapid-cycle research is changing the way we think about patient-reported outcomes and their potential to deliver real, meaningful insights to improve decision-making,” she said. “PCSK9 inhibitor usage was the first of these rapid-cycle projects, but it won’t be the last. It is an exciting concept that holds a lot of promise, not only for a third-party payer, but also for the research community and patients seeking faster insights than traditional clinical research can deliver.”
Learn more about PCORnet’s portfolio of rapid cycle research projects.