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Insurers are slow to approve pricey new cholesterol drugs

​(Reuters Health) - During the first year an expensive class of new cholesterol-lowering drugs was on the market, only one in three patients with a prescription actually received the therapy due to lack of insurance approval and high copays, according to a study sponsored by a manufacturer of one such drug.

The drugs, known as PCSK9 inhibitors, are intended for use by adults whose “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels remain dangerously high even though they’re taking maximal doses of traditional cholesterol-lowering medications.

Because PCSK9 inhibitors can cost up to $14,000 per year, insurance companies usually require prior authorization and patient copays.