Fish oil supplements represent very good “value for money" for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.
Released today, the cost-benefit report was commissioned by The Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia (CHC) to assess the economic merits of providing fish oil supplements to Australians who had survived a heart attack.
The CHC said the analysis found that fish oil supplementation for this population group represented very good value for money with an estimated cost per disability-adjusted life years (DALY) averted of $2,200.
“The report has found that the Australian community could be saving up to $4.19 billion, in terms of costs related to disease burden and premature life loss, through the preventive use of fish oils in Australians with heart disease,” Dr Wendy Morrow, CHC executive director, said.
The analysis was based on two branded forms of fish oil – Omacor and Maxepa, with a dosage of 510 to 540mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day, and 345 to 360mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day respectively
The DALY value was monetised based on estimates from the Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation for the value of a statistical life year.
The analysis estimated the net benefit of fish oils as a dietary supplement as adjunctive treatment for prevention of heart disease according to the current clinical evidence, compared with standard treatment without fish oil supplements.
Dr Morrow said that despite the highly favourable findings, fish oil supplements were not currently subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and were currently subject to the GST levy.
“As the evidence of improved health outcomes and positive net benefits of complementary medicine interventions build it would be strategic for Governments to review these arrangements,” she said.
The cost benefit analysis was undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics.