UK doctors question the wisdom of lowering statin threshold
Doctors from the UK have questioned the wisdom of putting Indian patients who have a low risk of cardiovascular disease under statins. The doctors argue that the benefits may not outweigh the risks that this drug put on the patients in the long term. The risks include diabetes, fatigue, reduced energy and erectile dysfunction.
In a letter signed by Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, ProfessorClare Gerada, former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners among other leading figures in protest to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance which recommends statin treatment for the prevention of VCD to patients who are at a 10 percent risk of cardiovascular disease. The letter requested NICE not to make any final recommendations touching on statin use threshold until all the issues raised by the doctors were adequately solved.
The doctors argue that cases of adverse effect in the statin trials have been reported. Another concern is that the NICE’s conclusions are guided by studies which were entirely funded by pharmaceutical companies. Still, the data that NICE used is not available for scrutiny by independent researchers. The data is available to people who work at Oxford Cholesterol Treatment Trialists Collaboration (CTT) only. CTT has commercial deals with drug companies meaning they cannot release the data to anyone who requests to see it. The doctors requested that all data from the trials be availed to independent researchers.
To further support their argument, the doctors cited findings from studies not funded by pharmaceutical companies. In one such study, middle aged women taking statins were found to be at 48 percent risk of developing diabetes.
If the statin threshold is lo wered, 5 million more people from UK will be on statins for the rest of their lives.
Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a member British Medical Association’s General Practitioner’s sub-committee, said that using billions to treat millions based on data that they aren’t allowed to see “is another example of the corporatization of medicine and will result in a public health disaster.”
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