Cardiovascular medicines are key elements in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease. The findings in this report, using data on supply, and general practitioner (GP) prescriptions and use, highlight that cardiovascular medicines are most commonly used to help control levels of blood pressure and blood lipids, such as cholesterol.

Other key findings include those described here:

  • Over 100 million Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme/Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions for cardiovascular medicines were dispensed to the Australian community in 2015. These comprised one-third (34%) of the total prescription medicines dispensed.
  • Blood pressure lowering medicines (such as perindopril and irbesartan) and blood cholesterol lowering medicines (such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin) were the most commonly dispensed prescription medicines in Australia in 2015. This pattern was also observed for GP prescription data and medicine use among people with a cardiovascular condition.
  • The dispensing of prescription lipid-modifying agents increased by 66% between 2005 and 2015, while calcium channel blockers and renin-angiotensin system agents—both blood pressure lowering agents—increased by 38 and 41%, and antithrombotic medicines by 24%.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (18%) of all medications prescribed by GPs in 2015–16 were for the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular medicines were prescribed at a rate of 9.4 per 100 problems managed. Many of these prescriptions included orders for repeats.
  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of the estimated 4.1 million Australians who reported having a cardiovascular condition in 2014–15 had used a cardiovascular system medicine in the previous fortnight.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of a study population of concessional beneficiaries aged 65 and over used more than one class of cardiovascular medicine to manage their health condition(s) in 2014–15. One-quarter (23%) received blood pressure lowering, lipid-modifying and antithrombotic medicines.
  • Expenditure on cardiovascular medicines was $1.84 billion in 2015–16, with government expenditure comprising 76% of the total.
  • Expenditure on cardiovascular system medicines fell by one-third (31%) between 2005–06 and 2015–16, driven by falls in the costs of high-volume medicines such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin.